Q. I work at an acupuncture office that sees many active-duty service members and veterans. A few have asked us to write letters to Tricare to request that acupuncture services be covered. I read in your column that Tricare itself cannot make changes; they must come from Congress. Where might people direct their letters?
Q. Will Tricare pay anything for acupuncture or a chiropractor? I use them and they seem to work; I no longer take allergy meds. I still have a regular doctor too. I had the coverage when I had my employer’s insurance.
Tricare is currently forbidden by federal law and regulation to pay for chiropractic care or acupuncture. I am aware that there are people with strong feelings about the effectiveness of both of those treatment modalities, both for and against, and both have been the subject of considerable public dispute and debate.
Tricare is not a health insurance policy or an insurance company. It is a federal health benefits program created and governed by federal law, which determines who is eligible and when, which medical services Tricare may cover and which are excluded, the amounts it may pay for each medical service and the manner of payment, the portion of the costs of care that are the beneficiary’s responsibility to pay, and the like. Only Congress can change it.