Military Advantage

They Claim They Sent Tricare Warning Letters, But I Never Got Them

Letters received from Health Net by Amy Bushatz (Military.com)
Letters received from Health Net by Amy Bushatz (Military.com)

"Beneficiaries who are in our records as not current on their Tricare enrollment payment and/or are not signed up for auto pay, have been sent letters and emails each month since January," Molly Tuttle, a spokesperson for Tricare West region contractor Health Net told me Monday in a statement.

As a reporter who covers Tricare for Military.com and also uses Tricare Reserve Select for her health care, I pay very, very close attention to all communication I receive from Tricare and Health Net. And those letters inform my reporting.

I personally check our family mail, and I personally open every single piece of mail, especially from Tricare. I am confident that I miss nothing.

And that's why I can tell you the statement above from Health Net is not true for me. And if it's not true for me, I'm betting it's not true for some of you.

Many readers have emailed me to say they never received information from Tricare that they needed to update payment or that cost changes were coming.

If that describes your experience, you are not alone.

When Tricare sent a letter in November telling beneficiaries like me that we had to update our autopay information or risk getting dropped, I both obeyed and wrote a story about it so that you could do the same.

That's why, when I learned several weeks ago that those who updated their payment information as instructed were at risk of being dropped anyway, I looked for how it might affect me.

Before last Monday, April 16, I had received only one letter from Tricare about my enrollment -- the November warning. I received nothing telling me they had lost my updated payment information, nothing telling me I was past due, nothing telling me my coverage might be dropped.

Which is why I was so surprised to receive this first notice in a letter received April 16 telling me my account was more than $600 overdue.

"Failure to bring your account current and establish a recurring monthly payment option by 04/20/2018 will result in disenrollment and a 12 month purchase lock-out will go into effect," the letter, dated April 12, said.

I had previously been told by Tricare officials that no one would be dropped for non-payment before May 30.

So why did this letter say April 20? When I asked Tricare officials, they referred me to Health Net.

And then, on April 20, while waiting for Health Net's response to my questions, I received a second letter, this time dated April 16 (and generated before I had once again updated my account).

"Failure to bring your account current within 30 days of the date of this notice will result in disenrollment."

That's still not May 30, but it's closer.

On Monday, Tuttle said in a statement that May 30 remains the deadline.

"It is important to note that if payment is not made and beneficiaries are disenrolled, May 30 is the last day to be reinstated after disenrollment," she wrote.

Tuttle indicated the April 12 letter may have been sent in error, although she did not respond to questions about specifically how many people received it or why a second letter also included an incorrect drop date. She also did not say if those who received either letter were being contacted with the correct information.

"An oversight was found in a small number of accounts, which prompted the April 12 letter you received," she wrote.

Tuttle did not respond to questions about why Health Net is sending out contradictory information or how many users were delinquent even after updating their accounts as instructed.

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