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Looking for information about Tricare? Military.com is your one-stop shop for military benefits information, including everything you need to know about the military's Tricare system.
Tricare is the U.S. military's health care program and functions as government-managed health insurance. Tricare's various coverage plans provide health care for millions of current and former service members and their families. Tricare is managed by the Pentagon's Defense Health Agency.
Tricare is divided into several different types of coverage programs covering active-duty families, National Guardsmen and reservists and their families, and military retirees and their families. Those programs include:
Tricare Prime is like a civilian health maintenance organization, or HMO. Users are assigned a primary care manager and must get referrals to access specialty care. User costs depend on military service status. For example, an active-duty family enrolled in Tricare Prime pays no fees so long as they follow referral rules, but retiree families do pay out of pocket.
Tricare Select is like a civilian preferred provider organization, or PPO. Users can select their own primary care manager and self-refer to specialists. While some provider appointments, such as well-child visits, carry no fees, others do. How much users pay and whether they face an enrollment fee depends on their service status.
Tricare Reserve Select is a plan for traditional Guard and reservists and functions exactly like Tricare Select, with one significant difference: Users must pay a monthly premium.
Tricare for Life is the name assigned by law for the program that provides supplemental health coverage for retirees and their spouses who are over age 65. To use Tricare for Life, retirees also must be enrolled in Medicare Part B and pay Part B monthly premiums.
Confusion sometimes is caused when those leaving the military are told they will receive Tricare for life -- meaning Tricare as a lifetime benefit, as opposed to being assigned to the Tricare for Life plan.
Tricare Young Adult is available in both Prime and Select versions and is available to military dependents who are full-time students between the ages of 23 and 25 or non-students between ages 21 and 25. Tricare Young Adult users pay enrollment fees set by law.
Tricare's dental plan is managed by a contractor, United Concordia, and is available for purchase by active-duty family members and Guard and Reserve members and their families.
Military retirees must purchase dental coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or FEDVIP.