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Learn About TRICARE Plans

TRICARE plans for insurance are offered to military members and their beneficiaries as a low cost, affordable way to receive health care. There are different types of TRICARE plans available depending on the needs of the recipient as well as his or her age and military status. While browsing through TRICARE health plans, keep in mind the cost of premiums as well as the enrollment eligibility criteria.

TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select (formerly TRICARE Standard) and TRICARE for Life are just a few of the TRICARE insurance options available to choose from, each offering a different set of benefits. For example, the Prime insurance option offers minimal out-of-pocket expenses and no enrollment fees. To find out more about the variety of TRICARE insurance plans available, continue reading below for a summary or download our comprehensive guide.

How to Choose a TRICARE Plan

Before choosing a specific TRICARE insurance plan, it is important for military members to go through every option available to see which would be most advantageous for themselves as well as their beneficiaries. Every insurance plan through TRICARE will have different options and overall costs, which can influence:

  • Deductibles.
  • Coinsurance.
  • Copayments.
  • Premiums.

Cost plays a major role in choosing the right TRICARE health plan, but eligibility requirements matter too. While some applicants for TRICARE may be eligible for certain programs based on their age and military status, others may not. Verifying the eligibility guidelines for enrollment can make a difference in which TRICARE plan would be most beneficial. Although there are different considerations applicants can factor when learning how to choose a TRICARE plan, eligibility to enroll will be the most important one.

What is TRICARE for Life?

TRICARE for Life is a type of insurance that works in tandem with Medicare. The coverage included with TRICARE for Life eligibility allows beneficiaries the chance to seek care from any Medicare-participating or non-Medicare-participating providers. Before enrolling, applicants should consider all the information about TRICARE for Life plans.

Since TRICARE for Life is Medicare-wraparound coverage, this means that Medicare providers will file any claims through Medicare to pay its portion of the coverage. From there, Medicare forwards the claim to TRICARE that processes further coverage payments. The beneficiaries who can enroll in this TRICARE plan include those who already have both Medicare Part A and B. There are no enrollment fees, however, Medicare premiums may be required for payment.

What is TRICARE Prime?

TRICARE Prime is another insurance plan option available to consider. TRICARE Prime coverage is the option for all active duty military members as well as their beneficiaries. Important information about TRICARE coverage through Prime includes that the plan provides less out-of-pocket costs for active duty personnel when compared to other insurance plans. However, there is also less freedom to choose a provider.

Enrollees who do not live in a TRICARE Prime Service Area will need to choose another plan for insurance, like Prime Remote or Prime Overseas. A few eligibility requirements for Prime benefits include the following:

  • Active duty service members and their families
  • Retired service members and their families
  • Activated Guard/Reserve members and their families
  • Retired Guard/Reserve members (60 years of age or older and receiving retired pay) and their families
  • Non-activated Guard/Reserve members and their families who qualify for care under the Transitional Assistance Management Program
  • Survivors
  • Medal of Honor recipients and their families
  • Qualifying former spouses

What is TRICARE Select?

TRICARE Select is another popular insurance option for active duty military enrollees. What was formerly known as TRICARE Standard, the Select program is fee-for-service based and only available within the United States. Enrollment is required and applicants must meet or exceed requirements for minimum essential coverage.

The process of how to enroll in TRICARE Select coverage options requires enrollees to schedule an appointment with a TRICARE-authorized provider with prior authorization from a regional contractor. All that is needed for proof of coverage is a military ID.

What is TRICARE Young Adult?

The TRICARE Young Adult plan is an option to consider for extended coverage. TRICARE Young Adult insurance is a plan that eligible children can purchase after regular TRICARE benefit coverage expires at 21 years of age or 23 for those enrolled in college. Eligibility details for TRICARE Young Adult are important to verify since there are many stipulations pertaining to qualifying for coverage.

Unmarried, adult children who have aged out of regular TRICARE benefits should consider purchasing this insurance option to prolong coverage. TRICARE Young Adult enrollment is specific to an enrollee’s age as well as for recipients who do not otherwise meet the TRICARE eligibility coverage requirements.

What is TRICARE Reserve Select?

TRICARE Reserve Select is a premium-based plan, open worldwide that offers health care coverage for specific enrollees. TRICARE Reserve Select enrollment is open to member of the Select Reserve and their families who are not on active duty orders, not covered under the Transitional Assistance Management Program and who are not eligible for or enroll in the Federal Employees Health benefits program.

The way TRICARE Reserve works is that enrollees schedule an appointment with any authorized provider or request an appointment at a military hospital. Those who visit a non-network provider will pay higher costs and will need to file their own health care claims. Cost and other fee information for TRICARE Reserve Select is valuable for enrollees to understand before having medical services rendered.

What is TRICARE Retired Reserve?

The Retired Reserve plan through TRICARE is another option for insurance that is provided to qualified Select Reserve members and their family members. This premium-based insurance plan is offered worldwide and has very specific enrollment eligibility requirements. Those who can participate in TRICARE Reserve include:

  • Retired Reserve members who are members of the Reserve or a Reserve Component and who are qualified for non-regular retirement.
  • Retired Reserve members who are younger than 60 years of age.
  • Retired Reserve members who are not eligible for or enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program.
  • Family members of qualified Retired Reserve members.
  • Certain survivors of retired Reserve members.

Find Out How to Enroll in a TRICARE Plan

Depending on the TRICARE insurance plan a military member chooses, the ways in which an applicant can enroll will vary. Each plan will require an enrollee to first qualify and then decide which way to enroll is best. For example, TRICARE Reserve Select offers enrollment options online, by phone or in person at any TRICARE Service Center.

Enrollees will then have the option to purchase the right plan for them by paying an initial premium payment. To find out more about different TRICARE health plans, download our detailed guide today.