Editor's note: Due to incorrect information provided by Tricare, Military.com on Tuesday published a story detailing increases in pregnancy costs for military families next year. A spokesman on Wednesday acknowledged the information released to Military.com was incorrect. The story has been updated to reflect this change. We apologize for the error.
The cost of having a baby will likely not change in 2018 for most active-duty Tricare Standard and Guard and Reserve users, despite initial information from Tricare that such costs would skyrocket.
In emails with Military.com on Tuesday, a Tricare official confirmed information indicating pregnancy costs would surge more than twenty-fold for many military families starting Jan. 1.
But in emails and telephone calls with Military.com on Wednesday, another Tricare official said the initial information was not accurate. Instead, the spokesman said a flat-rate maternity fee system currently used by all non-Tricare Prime active-duty and Guard or Reserve beneficiaries for traditional in-patient hospital births will remain in place.
“The fee structure for delivering a baby at a traditional in-patient hospital is not changing in 2018," Kevin Dwyer, a Tricare spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday to Military.com. That means "most patients will not see an increase, however those having a home delivery may see changes in costs," he said.
As part of a series of other, major changes, Tricare fees for all non-Prime users, except those on Tricare for Life, will move Jan. 1 to a system that charges flat fees for in-network specialty and primary care after annual deductibles are met. The current fee system is based on a "percentage of allowable charges,” and varies based on provider, location and appointment type, among other factors.
But rather than shifting to that per-visit cost system for maternity care as originally stated by Tricare, prenatal office visits for all users will continue to remain free in 2018, officials said Nov. 29. Pregnancy and childbirth at in-patient Tricare network hospitals will continue to carry a flat "global" fee of $25 for the first day and $18.60 for each subsequent day for active-duty users on Tricare Standard or Extra as well as Guard or Reserve users on Tricare Reserve Select.
Users who deliver at a hospital also will not see fee changes in 2018, officials said. However, those who deliver at home could face some higher costs, they said.
Other changes coming to the Tricare system after the new year include an expansion to no-cost annual preventative care for Tricare Select and Reserve Select users and a new policy that will block users from switching between Tricare plans outside of the annual open enrollment period or without a "qualifying life event" starting in 2019.