Tricare is moving many of its notifications from postal mail to an online system, the agency announced Oct 1.
The change will be effective immediately, according to a release from Tricare, and will impact notices about changes to coverage and Tricare eligibility, it says. That means if, for example, your coverage is pulled for any reason you will not receive a notice about it in the mail. Instead, you will receive an email or mailed post card asking you to log-in to the Defense Department's online benefits system, milConnect, to read your change notice.
Common Access Card (CAC) holders can log into the system using their card. Others can log-in using their DFAS log-in and PIN, which is normally used to access MyPay information.
But most users will need to log-in to the system using a Department of Defense Self Service or "DS" Log-in. That username and password is used across the DoD for a variety of programs, including portions of Military One Source, for example.
There are a lot of questions about what notifications, specifically, are being impacted by this change beyond the "changes to coverage and eligibility" description Tricare gave in its release. We're in the process of tracking down that information for you.
Whether you receive a post card or email notifying you of a waiting message will depend on whether or not you have a working email address on file in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). If you do, your notice will come by email. If you don't, you'll see it in the mail.
This would be a good time to think about checking with DEERS to see what email address you have on file. If it's the one you stopped using five years ago, you could miss some notifications about some very important Tricare messages -- potentially messages like "you are no longer covered." That would be bad.
But how do you update your email address? You must ... wait for it ... log-in to milConnect with your DS Log-In and update your information.
So -- how do you get a DS Log-In? Go here. If you are not a service member, or you do not have a MyPay account, you are going to pick the last option: "I have none of the above, but I am registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)."
After you click that, follow the prompts to create your log-in. If you already have one and didn't realize it, you will be prompted with your existing username. If you can't remember your password you can ask them to help you reset it.
We've asked Tricare for more information on how this system will work on mobile (if at all) and how it will impact customers who either are not computer savvy or do not use the internet, like some of our older retiree population. When we have those details we'll let you know.