My 82-year-old mother is a recent legal immigrant to the U.S. She lives with us and is our dependent. How can I get her signed up for Tricare?
Dependent parents and parents-in-law are not eligible for Tricare. Under certain circumstances, however, the uniformed services may determine a parent or parent-in-law to be the dependent of an active duty member or retiree. In those circumstances, the parent or in-law may be allowed to use a military treatment facility, subject to the availability of space, personnel, and technical capacity.
You must apply with your service for your mother to be designated, legally, as your dependent. Then you may apply with your MTF for her to be allowed to use its facilities. Ask whether she can be eligible for Tricare Plus, which will give her the same access rights to free MTF care as are enjoyed by Tricare Prime members. She will not have Tricare Prime health care coverage, but the medical care she will get will be just as good.
A while ago, we received notice that we could get Tricare for aging parents who become our dependents or live in our residence. We have Tricare Prime. Can we add on my mother, if we decide to care for her in our home full time?
Dependent parents are not among the categories of persons who are automatically eligible for Tricare. In some cases, when dependency has been officially established through the military sponsor’s service, a dependent parent may become eligible for some level of medical care at government expense.
For official answers to questions about your parents’ Tricare or other eligibility, call DEERS at 1-800-538-9552.
My son is taking a medical retirement from the Marines. I am his father and will be unemployed and uninsured soon due to a company closing. Is it possible for me, his mother and brother to buy coverage through him with Tricare?
Although it functions in many of the same ways, Tricare is not a health insurance policy or an insurance company. It is a federal health benefits program created by law with the sole purpose of paying part of the costs of civilian medical care for the spouse and eligible children of active-duty service personnel, retired personnel and their eligible family members, surviving family members of deceased active duty and retired personnel, and a few others.
The parents, siblings, or other family members apart from the service member’s spouse and children are not eligible for Tricare. They cannot purchase eligibility or coverage by the program.
You can get official confirmation of the above, and a complete description and explanation of Tricare eligibility, by calling the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552.
My son is in the Air Force, stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He applied to have me as a secondary dependent (I am his mother) and it was approved in June. I went to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., a few weeks ago to get my military ID and to find out about medical care. They told me I couldn’t see a doctor there, but if I saw a civilian doctor and he ordered tests, they could do them on base. I’m sure there is some way for me to get some medical care. Can I join Tricare? Can I go to another military medical facility?
By law, a service member’s parents are not eligible for Tricare. That is true even if the parent is totally dependent on the service member. You can get official confirmation of the above by calling the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System at 1-800-538-9552.
Dependent parents may be authorized medical services, at varying levels of care, at a military hospital. Depending on the situation at the particular hospital, a parent may get total care there, limited services or no services. The parent has no legal right to care at the military hospital. If granted, it is a matter of courtesy only.
Apparently, that was your experience in that, although you cannot see a military doctor at your hospital, it can provide certain laboratory services for you when ordered by your civilian physician.
The primary consideration for whether a dependent parent can get care is usually the availability of space, personnel, and/or the technical capacity of that hospital to provide the care the parent needs.
The primary mission of military hospitals, by law, is to provide care for active duty military personnel. That must always be the hospital’s primary concern.
The decision to grant or deny a dependent parent’s access to care at the military hospital rests entirely with its Commanding Officer. That decision is based on his or her professional opinion, after consideration of the hospital’s primary mission.
You may want to approach the hospital’s Patient Administration Office or Executive Officer about your concerns.
I am married to an active military member. My mother was married to an active duty member as well. They recently got a divorce, and she lost all of her privileges (Tricare, military ID, etc.). I heard from someone that my husband and I can sponsor her so that she will have the same privileges as before. Is this true?
By law, even if your mother becomes your legal dependent, she cannot become eligible for Tricare under your or your spouse’s sponsorship.
You don’t report how long your mother was married to her military husband, however. If she was married to the same man for at least 20 years during which he was accumulating points toward retirement, her Tricare eligibility can be extended.
I suggest that you call the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552, to discuss these two matters and to get some official information.
Q. Can I get Tricare coverage for my mother while I am on active duty? She has been my dependent for the last 8 months and she has lived with me for the last 6 years. I pay all of her bills and I also pay for her medical expenses. She does not receive any assistance from the government. She does not have a job or receive retirement pay. She is 59 years old.
Regardless of a uniformed service member’s duty status — active duty or retired — his or her parents are not eligible for Tricare, even if they are legally classified as dependents. That is a matter of federal law. You can confirm that by calling the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552. DEERS is a federal agency under the Defense Department. It deals with eligibility issues only.
There remains a possibility that your mother could be allowed free medical care at the military hospital where you are stationed. To that end, please contact the hospital’s Patient Administration Office.
The authority to grant that permission lies exclusively with the hospital’s Commanding Officer. It is subject to the availability of space and personnel, and the hospital’s technical ability to provide the care she needs. It is a privilege, not a right provided by law. It can be withdrawn at any time according to the needs of the service.
If granted, permission will apply to that particular military hospital only. It is not transferable. That is, if you are assigned to a different military facility, you would have to seek permission again at your new duty station’s hospital.
Q. I am a retired Marine. How can I enroll my mother as my dependent? I have been supporting her.
To register your mother as your dependent, talk with your Personnel Section. But please note that, even if your mother becomes your dependent, she will not become eligible for Tricare. Federal law forbids it.
You may be able to arrange for her to get free medical care at your military hospital. Talk with the hospital’s Executive Officer or the Officer-in-Charge of Patient Administration about that.
For official confirmation that your mother cannot become eligible for Tricare as your dependent, call the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552.
Q. My parents had to move in with my wife and me, which I think makes them my dependents now. I’m active duty and my parents are in their late 60s and early 70s. Is there a way to get them covered by my Tricare?
I can tell you that dependent parents are not eligible for Tricare. You can confirm that by calling the DEERS Support Office, toll-free, at 1-800-538-9552.
But there is a possibility that the commanding officer of your military treatment facility may grant permission for your parents to receive medical care there. Dependent parents’ use of a MTF is not a right under the law — it is a privilege that may be granted by the MTF’s commanding officer, subject to the availability of space, personnel, and the MTF’s technical ability to provide needed care. Even if permission is granted, it can be terminated at any time.
Do two things. First, call DEERS to confirm whether your parents can be made eligible for Tricare. That is so you can be absolutely certain whether they have any rights to medical care at government expense as your dependents. Second, make an appointment to speak with your MTF’s executive officer or the officer in charge of patient administration. Present your case, explaining your parent’s financial situation and/or any special needs that might contribute to a successful request. You wrote that they are dependent on you. Explain why that is. Ask whether approval can be granted for them to use any of the MTF’s facilities, including the pharmacy.
If the XO denies permission, ask for permission to speak with the hospital’s commanding officer about the matter. The CO’s decision is governed by law, regulation, and his special knowledge and experience regarding the capacity of his MTF, and the needs of the military personnel and families under his care. It will be final.
The CO is responsible for the health care of the entire military facility. By law, however, active-duty military personnel always come first. In the competition for MTF space, the spouse and children of active duty members and who also are enrolled in Tricare Prime are second. Everybody else is last.