Tricare Website Glitch Causes Problems as Open Season Gets Underway

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A military family member uses TRICARE online. (U.S Army/SPC Paxton Busch)
A military family member uses TRICARE online. (U.S Army/SPC Paxton Busch)

Active-duty families and military retirees will not be able to enroll in or change their 2020 Tricare health insurance plans online despite previous reports about the open enrollment period process, the Defense Health Agency(DHA) announced Friday.

This means eligible beneficiaries have only two options to sign up for Tricare or change their plans for next year during open season: call or mail. The enrollment period ends Dec. 9; it began Nov. 11.

The glitch does not impact Tricare for Life users.

Beneficiaries calling to switch or enroll in Tricare Prime or Tricare Select will have to dial their regional contractor.

Related: Tricare Enrollment for 2020 Now Open

Health Net Federal Services handles coverage in the western United States; its phone number is 1-844-866-9378. Beneficiaries living in the eastern U.S. must call Humana Military at 1-800-444-5445.

Signing up or changing via mail involves downloading a Tricare form. However, the Tricare Prime and Tricare Select web pages have not been updated and still explain how to register online.

Tricare Prime typically has no out-of-pocket costs, allows users to be seen on base and requires referrals for specialty care. Co-pays are required for most doctor visits under Tricare Select, but it lets users self-refer and be seen in the community outside of the Military Treatment Facility system. Retiree coverage is similar to what's offered to active-duty families, but the out-of-pocket costs are different.

When it's not open season, users can switch to Tricare only if they have a "qualifying life event," or QLE, like a military move or the birth of a child. Users who fail to enroll in Tricare during such a period or within the open season window will only have access to care at a military hospital or clinic if space is available, and that coverage does not meet a "minimum essential coverage" requirement under the Affordable Care Act.

Open season does not affect those who are eligible for premium-based health plans such as Tricare Reserve Select, Tricare Retired Reserve, Tricare Young Adult and the Continued Health Care Benefit Program.

The DHA and its regional contractors have posted on their websites about the "technical issue" with the Beneficiary Web Enrollment (BWE) platform, but as of publication, the DHA has not answered how long BWE has had this problem, when it will be fixed or whether there will be additional call center staff.

-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at dorothy.mills-gregg@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DMillsGregg.

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