You’ve put your time in and now it is time to retire. As it is true for workers in the private sector so it is true for the many members of the armed services who have given themselves over to the service of their country for many years. When it is time to retire, many soldiers want to know what sort of benefits they will receive in the coming years. At the top of that list may be military retirement health benefits. The most common source for these benefits is TriCare, a provider that covers all retirees from uniformed services.
TriCare combines the health care systems of all branches of the United States military with a dedicated network of civilian service providers in the health care profession. The goal is to offer greater and quality access to health care for military personnel and their loved ones, regardless of whether they are active-duty, reserved, or part of the National Guard. These members will be immediately enrolled in the TriCare Prime program.
Range Of Eligibility
As with any quality health care service, TriCare was built to serve the needs of not only the main beneficiaries of the policy–namely, the soldier–but also military wives and their families. Eligible family members may be covered by one or more of the TriCare plans. Those members may include the spouse, an unmarried widow or widower, unmarried child under 21 years of age (23 if going to college), and un-remarried former spouses (with conditions).
The Different Plans
Since not everyone’s health care needs are identical, three distinct plans have been created under the direction of TriCare. Each one has something to offer military retirees.
• TriCare Prime – TriCare Prime, is a mandatory step. In other words, to access any of the other programs you will need to be enrolled in Prime for at least one year. It functions almost the same as an HMO in civilian life, using a network of military hospital and clinics to provide preventative care to patients.
• TriCare Extra – For the retired soldier who would like more options in terms of the pool of health care providers, Extra might be the best option. This also allows for the recipient to use civilian doctors out of broader network of providers, including specialists. There may be more expense with Extra than with Prime, but the increased options may make up for that. There is no enrollment required for this option.
• TriCare Standard – This is essentially a fee-for-service health care option. It allows retirees and their loved ones that are eligible to obtain outpatient services through civilian health care providers. While service may be sought at military hospitals, members of the TriCare Prime option will receive preference for appointments.
TriCare in all its forms does give retiree military veterans a variety of options to fit their very specific needs. In some cases, the coverage can be used in conjunction with Medicare and other insurance options.