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Tricare Help: Can I drop Tricare Prime?

Mar. 21, 2012 - 06:12PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 21, 2012 - 06:12PM  |  
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Q. I'm a retired reservist. My wife and I switched from Blue Cross Blue Shield's federal program to Tricare Prime when I turned 60 last year. We had the BCBS plan suspended and used Prime as our primary insurance. Now, because of a problem we're having with Prime, I want to drop that coverage and return to BCBS as primary. How do I do that?

A. Call or write to your Tricare Prime contractor and tell them what you want to do. You will not be able to re-enroll in Prime for a year once you have canceled that service, so you will be restricted to Tricare Standard.

Discuss the matter with the contractor to be sure you understand the rules and that your BCBS plan will become your primary insurance.

Q. My wife has worked only in Germany, making her ineligible for Medicare and Part B. I know that means she will lose her Tricare when she turns 65 this summer. I'm told that she will get Medicare through me when I turn 62, but she is five years older than I am. What is she supposed to do for health insurance until I turn 62?

A. Ninety days before the month when she will be 65, your wife should apply for Medicare. Medicare will deny her application because she is not eligible, and will issue her an official Notice of Disallowance.

She needs to file that notice with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Because she will not be eligible for Medicare at age 65, she will not lose her Tricare eligibility for failure to be enrolled in Part B at age 65. Her eligibility for ordinary Tricare will continue unchanged until she becomes eligible for Medicare.

Three or four months before you turn 62, contact Medicare for information and instructions about your wife's Medicare eligibility. If she becomes eligible for Medicare when you are 62, and if she is enrolled in Part B, her transition to Tricare for Life should go forward without a hitch.

Q. I am currently covered by Tricare through my husband. Will my benefits continue if I renounce my U.S. citizenship?

A. U.S. citizenship is not required for Tricare eligibility as long as you remain married to your military sponsor.

For confirmation, please call the DEERS support office, toll free, at 1-800-538-9552.

Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or tricarehelp@militarytimes.com">tricarehelp@militarytimes.com. In email, include the word "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice anytime at http://www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp">www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp.

Answers by RallyPoint

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