This blog is the most recent in a series helping members of the Coast Guard family understand how to use their TRICARE benefits. The blog series will continue every Monday, right here on Coast Guard All Hands.
Written by Lt. Darin Schneider
Congratulations on receiving your overseas (OCONUS) orders! As part of your preparation to make this move, you must ensure all information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is current, especially if your family also moves to a location with a better support network (i.e. near family). Inaccurate information in DEERS or incorrect TRICARE enrollment can lead to problems with processing TRICARE claims. Therefore, it is crucial to review and possibly update your information prior to your Permanent Change of Station (PCS).
What steps should the sponsor take to ensure their family is best prepared?
A. Generate a list of important phone numbers:
1) Primary Care Manager for appointments
2) Regional Contractor for concerns
– North: Health Net 1-877-TRICARE
– South: Humana-Military 1-800-444-5445
– West: United Healthcare 1-877-988-WEST
3) The Coast Guard Health Benefits (HBA) line for questions:
– Coast Guard Health Care Questions 1-800-9-HBA-HB
4) The Nurse Advise Line for health care advise:
– Nurse Advise Line 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273), Option 1
B. Create a My TRICARE account to view and check referrals and claim’s statuses; review your family’s TRICARE plan information on MyTricare.com.
C. Talk about how and where to get prescriptions. If you have questions about this step, contact your Regional Contractor, the HBA line, or visit MyTricare.com.
D. Ensure family ID cards are up-to-date and will not expire during deployment.
What is DEERS and when should I update DEERS?
DEERS is a computerized database of military sponsors and families which contains personal information and TRICARE plan enrollment. Essentially, TRICARE eligibility is based on accurate information in DEERS. The service member is responsible for maintaining current information in DEERS. After ensuring the DEERS information is current, the next step is to determine the best TRICARE plan.
* Note: A sponsor cannot change a TRICARE plan in DEERS. Please visit the MyTricare.com website to complete this change.
What TRICARE options are available?
There are three different plans available including TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Prime Remote, and TRICARE Standard. The member’s location and preference need to be considered in order to determine the best-suited plan.
– TRICARE Prime is an option offering the most affordable and comprehensive coverage.
– TRICARE Prime Remote is an option offering the most affordable and comprehensive coverage to active duty families in remote U.S. locations.
– TRICARE Standard is a fee-for-service plan which has the most freedom of choice of providers. This allows patients to choose either a network or non-network provider, which potentially may improve access to care.
It is important that your dependents are enrolled in the plan you want. If you incur costs because you neglected to enroll properly, you will not be excused from the fees because you are deployed. Ensure your family is enrolled to a Primary Care Manager in the location they will be residing. You can find a doctor online at www.tricare.mil or call 1-800-TRICARE.
What if my family moves while I am deployed?
First you should update the current address in DEERS. Then you will need to determine if you need to change the TRICARE plan. To assist you with this decision, you can contact your Regional Contractor (information above). An additional resource is the CG HBA line for health care related questions (call 1-800-9-HBA-HBA or email CGHBA@uscg.mil).
Have more questions about your TRICARE benefits? Leave a note in the comments below!