Thousands of TRICARE Users Could Soon Lose Coverage

FILE -- Jonathan Serna, registered nurse, Surgical Ward, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, checks on Henrie Schneider, WBAMC inpatient, during Schneider's stay at WBAMC's Surgical Ward, April 11. (U.S. Army/Marcy Sanchez)
FILE -- Jonathan Serna, registered nurse, Surgical Ward, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, checks on Henrie Schneider, WBAMC inpatient, during Schneider's stay at WBAMC's Surgical Ward, April 11. (U.S. Army/Marcy Sanchez)

About 50,000 TRICARE Prime retiree or TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve or TRICARE Young Adult users in the new West region could be on the cusp of losing coverage, according to an email obtained this week by Military.com.

TRICARE users in those households -- about 39,000 Prime beneficiaries and 25,000 Reserve or young adult plan beneficiaries -- as of Jan. 31 had not yet updated their payment information with the contractor, Health Net Federal Services, according to the email from Laura D'Antin, the Defense Health Agency's West region Reserve component liaison.

Health Net took over management of the region Jan. 1.

The TRICARE Prime retiree, TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve and TRICARE Young Adult plans require users to pay regular premiums or be dropped from coverage. All users on those plans can pay by electronic funds transfers or credit or debit card; retirees also have the option of using a paycheck allotment.

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But thanks to the contractor swap, which shifted management of the West region from United Healthcare to Health Net, all users except those paying by paycheck allotment were required to re-register their payment information.

More than 100,000 users in the TRICARE West region late last year received notices by mail dated Nov. 18, while more than 100,000 households in the new East region received letters from contractor Humana dated Nov. 28, officials said.

Health Net users were to update their information by Dec. 20, while Humana users had until Dec. 24, the notices said.

Officials with Humana said Thursday they have received more than 128,000 requests to update payment information despite sending only about 100,000 letters. Still, they have extended the update deadline for TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve and TRICARE Young Adult users to Feb. 28, they said.

Thanks to a low response rate, Health Net officials said they have extended to March 23 their deadline for those groups. Officials said they are sending a new notice to beneficiaries who have yet to submit their payment information.

"Health Net Federal Services will be sending out one more notice to these beneficiaries, as well as email to those who have [a] registered email address on file, but as we have historically found, many of our beneficiaries either don't look at their mail/e-mail or they only have limited access (like on drill weekend only)," the email from D'Antin states.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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