TRICARE is a 'double edged sword' type of subject for most military families.  However, TRICARE can be great and I must give them props for continuing to roll out improved services that help military families.

Free Tricare advice for Southern Region

Service members in Tricare's Southern Region now have access to a new advocacy unit that can help them navigate the military health system.

The new program offers free advice about finding a doctor, using the prescription-drug program or figuring out the Tricare co-pay system. It also answers questions about other military medical systems, such as Veterans Affairs' programs.

The new program covers Tricare beneficiaries in South Carolina, George, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and most of Texas. Service members, veterans and their families can call (888) 4GO-WNAP for help.

Visit the TRICARE website for more information and information on other regions.

Don't forget to join SpouseBUZZ Talk Radio on 7 February for a TRICARE discussion with Army Major General Elder Granger, the Deputy Director of TRICARE Management Activity.

Another TRICARE update is that Tricare is seeking to reduce paper benefits forms.

The Defense Department is limiting the amount of Tricare paper it sends to military retirees age 65 and older and their families by sending explanations of benefits forms only once a month.

Others covered under Tricare, including active-duty families, will continue to have the choice of receiving a paper copy of their explanation of benefits (EOB) mailed each time a claim is processed, even if there are multiple claims in a month.

An explanation of benefits provides details of what action Tricare has taken on claims by doctors and other health care providers seeking payment for services to a patient. Officials said the monthly statement will allow easier comparison with the quarterly Medicare Summary Notice.

There are exceptions to the monthly policy for these retirees and their family members; statements will be sent if the EOB includes a check to the patient, or if a claim is denied and the patient has appeal rights for those services.

As in the past, patients can view an EOB online any time a claim is processed. Those who are not already registered for this service can do so online. Beginning Feb. 14, patients will have the option of receiving an e-mail notification when a claim is processed. They can then log on to the Web site to view and print their EOBs.

Once patients sign up for this option, however, they will not receive a mailed monthly summary of explanations of benefits.

Patients will be able to view the EOBs for any claim processed within the last 27 months.

Beneficiaries with questions about the registration process can call (866) 773-0404.

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