Tricare Help

Just discharged – do I still have coverage?

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I was recently honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. How long am I still covered under Tricare?

If you left service voluntarily, your Tricare coverage ended on the day of your separation.

If you were involuntarily separated, you may be eligible for 180 days of transitional health coverage through the Transition Assistance Management Program.

If you are not eligible for TAMP, your only other military-related health care option is something called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program. That program is not free; it requires enrollment and payment of quarterly premiums, and they are not cheap. You must sign up for CHCBP within 60 days of separation.

Husband leaving military; will I need to cover stepson?

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I’m on active duty, and my husband is getting out of the military soon. He has a son from a previous marriage and his ex-wife is a civilian. Will his son still be covered once he’s out, or will I have to claim him?

If your husband is separating from the military voluntarily, he will lose eligibility for all ordinary Tricare programs under his own military sponsorship on the day he separates. However, as long as you remain in the military, he can remain eligible for Tricare under your military sponsorship.

The question of the child’s coverage depends on who has physical custody most of the time and who pays the majority of the child’s financial support. For a child to be considered a dependent of a military sponsor for Tricare eligibility purposes, the sponsor must provide more than half of the child’s overall financial support. Once your husband is out, obviously he can no longer serve as the child’s military sponsor, so the child would lose Tricare eligibility under your husband’s sponsorship.

Whether you can shift the child to your sponsorship as his stepmother will depend on the aforementioned level of financial support; if you (and by extension your husband) are providing more than half the child’s financial support, you should be able to claim him as a dependent, and then he would remained covered under your sponsorship as long as you and your husband remain married and you stay in the military.

Tricare does not make these kinds of eligibility determinations; only the military services may do that. The mechanism they use is the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, the Defense Department’s eligibility portal for Tricare and other military benefits. You can get more information and guidance on your situation by visiting the ID Card/DEERS office on any military installation or by calling the main DEERS support office at 1-800-538-9552.

If you plan to place your husband under your military sponsorship for Tricare coverage once he separated, you will have to contact DEERS to also update his and your status and information in the DEERS database.

When husband leaves military short of retirement, can child keep Tricare coverage?

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I have been married for 15 years to my husband, who just got out of the Navy two years ago after 17 years. I know I don’t have any health coverage, but what about our son? He is only 13 years old, a minor.

I’m afraid your son is not eligible for Tricare, either. The only way he could have remained eligible is if your husband stayed in long enough to qualify for military retirement benefits, including health care benefits. That requires a service member to serve at least 20 years on active duty. If your husband got out with only 17 years of service, neither he, nor any of his family members, is eligible for Tricare.

Can reservist keep Tricare when contract runs out?

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I’m currently in the Army National Guard and my six-year contract runs out June 2014. I’m married with two children, and I’m wondering, when my contract runs out and I don’t enlist again, if I’m still eligible for any of the Tricare benefits.

Once an individual is no longer in the military, either as a drilling reservist or an active-duty member, the only way to be eligible for any Tricare programs would be if he or she had accrued enough active-duty time to qualify for military retirement benefits. Even then, if the individual was a reserve component retiree, he or she would not be able to use those benefits until age 60.

From what you’ve told me, you will not qualify for retirement benefits, so once you are no longer a drilling reservist, you will lose all Tricare eligibility.

Are we eligible for transitional Tricare after husband’s separation?

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My husband is being administratively separated with a general under honorable conditions discharge. Do my husband, myself, and our son qualify for the Tricare transitional management assistance program (TAMP), which covers us for 180 days?

The criteria for TAMP eligibility states that active-duty members are eligible if they are involuntary discharged under honorable conditions. A “general (under honorable conditions)” discharge is generally categorized as a form of honorable discharge.

However, eligibility for TAMP is determined by the military services, not by Tricare. Your husband needs to check with his service’s personnel office to verify whether he is eligible for TAMP.

Husband leaving active duty; what are our options?

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My husband is an active-duty Marine finishing up his four years early next year. We would like to start trying for a family but this would put any delivery date past the end of his service. Is it true that you are covered 90 days after service, or does Tricare service end when military service ends?

Some service members and their families are authorized 180 days of extended Tricare coverage after the member separates under what is called the Transitional Assistance Management Program. But please note that’s “some,” not “all.” Eligible are troops:

  • Involuntarily separating from active duty under honorable conditions.
  • In the National Guard or Reserve and separating from a period of active duty that was more than 30 consecutive days in support of a contingency operation.
  • Separating from active duty following involuntary retention (stop-loss) in support of a contingency operation.
  • Separating from active duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation.
  • Receiving a sole survivorship discharge.
  • Separating from regular active-duty service who agree to become a member of the Selected Reserve of a Reserve Component. The service member must become a Selected Reservist the day immediately following release from regular active duty service to qualify.

As you can see, troops who are separating voluntarily from active duty at the end of a normal enlistment — such as your husband — generally are eligible for TAMP only if they agree to join a reserve component straight off active duty (see the last item on the above list). However, your husband should at least check with his service’s personnel office about this, as TAMP eligibility ultimately is determined by the individual services.

If it turns out your husband is not eligible for TAMP, there is another program called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program that is designed to be a transitional “bridge” for service members who leave the military until they can get set up in their post-service careers and obtain health care coverage through a private-sector employer. CHCBP coverage for separating service members is limited to a maximum of 18 months, and the member must sign up within 60 days of separation. CHCBP is not connected to Tricare, although it offers coverage similar to Tricare Standard.

However, CHCBP is not free; it requires payment of premiums, and they’re not cheap. Premiums are paid quarterly (every 90 days). For family coverage, the current quarterly premium is $2,555, which equals just under $852 per month.

Marine leaving service, but wife is pregnant – will Tricare cover birth?

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My son will be getting out of the Marines next month. His wife is pregnant. Tricare is saying that he will have to get other insurance to cover the baby’s birth. He is willing to pay for premiums for their insurance until after the baby is born. What can he do?

Your son was correctly informed — if he is leaving service voluntarily, he will lose Tricare coverage when he separates. His best option in this case might be to sign up for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program. That is not technically a Tricare program, although it offers coverage similar to Tricare Standard. The CHCBP is designed to be transitional health care insurance for up to 18 months to cover service members and their families in the period between when a member leaves service and obtains civilian employment (and employee-sponsored health care). CHCBP also will cover pre-existing conditions in most cases.

The caveat is that CHCBP is not free; it requires payment of monthly premiums, and they are not cheap. Family coverage is currently $2,390 per quarter, or about $797 per month.