Nearly 13,000 Tricare users enrolled in the U.S. Family Health Plan (USFHP) in the northeast U.S. were mailed new insurance ID cards incorrectly printed without beneficiary names, officials confirmed Thursday.
"We're aware of the issue. We're sending replacement ID cards. We're advising members that we are aware of the issue and new cards are on the way," said Mario Amaya, director of operations for St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, which manages the plan for that region.
The U.S. Family Health Plan is a civilian case-based Tricare Prime offshoot program available in six regions nationwide and managed by six not-for-profit health care systems.
St. Vincent administers the program for 12,800 Tricare beneficiaries in New York City; Long Island; southern Connecticut; New Jersey; Philadelphia, and that city's surrounding suburbs.
A third-party contractor prints and mails out the system's ID cards, St. Vincent officials said.
Unlike other Tricare programs, which utilize military ID cards as proof of coverage, USFHP users are given insurance ID cards printed with their name, a series of other identification numbers and details about co-pay levels.
The misprinted cards impact only USFHP users in the St. Vincent system. The issue does not affect Tricare for Life users.
A series of major Tricare changes rolled out Jan. 1 came with a significant increase in out-of-pocket costs for many users, including military retirees on USFHP.
Like those on Tricare Prime, USFHP active-duty families have no co-pays or enrollment fees, while retirees pay an annual enrollment fee, as well as co-pays, until they hit their $3,000 annual out-of-pocket cap.
But while Tricare Prime retirees may be seen on base, which carries no co-pay, USFHP users cannot receive free on-base care.
As of Jan. 1, co-pays for both Tricare Prime retirees seen off base and all USFHP retiree users increased from $12 for any outpatient visit, to $20 for primary care visits and $30 for specialty care visits.
Emergency room fees for those users increased from $30 to $60, while fees for Urgent Care visits increased from $12 to $30.
Because of those changes, officials with St. Vincent hired a third-party printer to send all of their enrollees new cards displaying the updated fees.
But the cards were accidentally printed without names, and the error was discovered only after users received the cards, said Jeff Bloom, St. Vincent's executive director.
"Within a week, the phone started ringing here with the members saying, 'I got a card and my name is not on it, and in the past cards have had my name on them,' " he said. "We called our third-party printer and said ... 'That's not acceptable, I want them reprinted at your expense and we want them expedited.' "
The new cards with names were mailed this week; users should receive them within the next several days, Bloom said.
In the meantime, users can continue to utilize their old cards, or call St. Vincent to receive a correct temporary card by email, Amaya said.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.