New TRICARE Select Fees for Retirees
New TRICARE Select Fees For Retirees Begin January 1, 2021
On June 22nd, TRICARE announced in a press release that TRICARE Select Group A retired beneficiaries must pay for enrollment fees “in order to maintain their health coverage.” The new fees are set to take effect on January 1st, 2021, and this is the first time that TRICARE beneficiaries will be required to pay monthly enrollment fees.
What’s Going On?
Dr. Danita Hunter, director of the TRICARE Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency, stated that this change is mandated by Congress and that they “are communicating this well before the change is implemented so beneficiaries can be informed about the change, as well as their TRICARE plan and cost options.”
The change taking effect on New Year’s Day, 2021, was set in motion back in 2017 when the change was mandated by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The Defense Health Agency was granted permission by Congress to delay the implementation until the 2021 calendar year.
Who is Impacted?
The changes only affect the Group A retirees and their family members enrolled in TRICARE Select. You are considered Group A if your initial enlistment began before January 1st, 2018. Active duty family members enrolled in TRICARE Select will experience NO change, and will not pay enrollment fees.
What Do I Do if This Affects Me?
If you are enrolled in TRICARE Select and fall into Group A, then you must set up a monthly allotment through your Department of Defense (DoD) pay center for your monthly payments to start on January 1st, 2021. If you are a sponsor and you do not receive funds through a DoD pay center, you can set up payments via electronic funds transfer (EFT), credit card, or debit card. Please note that the EFT must be from a U.S. bank.
TRICARE’s website does indicate that your Regional Contractor will contact you soon to assist you with setting up payments. Expect this contact from TRICARE later in the summer.
What are the Enrollment Fees for TRICARE Select Group A retirees?
The enrollment fees that are set to begin on January 1st, 2020 are:
- Individual Plan: $12.50 per month
- Family plan: $25 per month
These fees will be collected via monthly installments from the sponsor’s military pay system where retirement pay is disbursed.
Are There Exemptions?
If you have TRICARE Select, you must pay enrollment fees, unless you are:
- An active duty family member
- A transitional survivor
- A medically retired retiree or family member
Other Changes starting January 1st, 2021
In addition to the fees listed above for those retirees in TRICARE Select Group A, the catastrophic cap, which is the max amount you will pay out-of-pocket per year, will increase from the current $3,000 to $3,500 beginning next year. On a positive note, your TRICARE Select enrollment fees will apply towards your catastrophic cap.
What if I Take No Action?
If you are TRICARE Select Group A, and you do not take action to set up your monthly payments, then you will be disenrolled from TRICARE Select for failure to pay enrollment fees on January 1st, 2021. You will have 90 days from your last paid through date to request reinstatement, and you must contact your regional contractor to request reinstatement.
Also, if you do not take action, you will only be able to get care from a military hospital or clinic if space is available.
Final Thoughts on New TRICARE Select Fees
From the time of its announcement until the time of its implementation is six months. These new enrollment fees will affect many of us, and the timing may not be the greatest. Granted, the legislation was passed back in 2017 before COVID-19 was a thing. However, we are months into a 15-day quarantine that was intended to flatten the curve to prevent the spread of the coronavirus; which means that we don’t know what to expect in January 2021.
The idea that veterans and their families may lose health coverage for inaction, to a bill that was passed before the world started battling a pandemic, is troublesome. TRICARE is just following orders as they are an appropriation of legislation and cannot create policies like this on their own. If this legislation bothers you, I encourage you to write to your congressional leaders. I know I have.
(Image courtesy of Vitaliy Vodolazskyy via 123rf.com)