Q. I've been in the Navy for four years and am getting out this summer. After I get out, can I still use Tricare? Would my family be eligible as well?
A. I'm sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but your and your family's entitlement to Tricare will end automatically at midnight on the day you are separated from active duty.
There is a commercial health insurance plan that is similar to Tricare in coverage. It is available in short-term blocks and was designed to meet the health insurance needs of families in your situation. It's called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program, and you can learn more at www.tricare.mil/CHCBP.
Q. How does a Tricare for Life beneficiary get reimbursed for hospital and doctor bills when traveling outside the continental U.S.?
A. From the moment you leave U.S. territory, you will have no coverage by the Medicare portion of Tricare for Life. Federal law does not allow Medicare to pay for foreign medical care. Your only coverage will be Tricare.
Save copies of all medical bills, receipts, doctor's statements, prescriptions and the like until you return home so you can file Tricare claims.
Q. I'm married to an active-duty airman. I have an ovarian cyst that must be removed ASAP. Does Tricare cover this kind of surgery?
A. Tricare does cover medically necessary care, including surgery, for your condition. If you live near a military hospital, make an appointment to be seen by military physicians. If you do not live near a military facility, you must find a civilian physician who is, or who is willing to become, a Tricare-authorized provider. Tricare may provide coverage only if you use a military hospital or a civilian physician who is authorized by Tricare to attend its beneficiaries.
Q. I am going to get Medicare and Tricare for Life soon, but the doctor I have used for several years does not take Medicare. I don't want to change doctors. Is there anything I can do?
A. Medicare cannot pay for any services from a health care provider who has opted out of the Medicare program. Although you can continue to use his services, you could not receive any payment from Medicare for them.
You could file a Tricare claim. Tricare can calculate the amounts it would have paid if Medicare had paid the doctor's claim, and will pay you that amount only. At the most, that would be the amounts the Medicare co-payment and deductibles would have been.
Unless you can persuade your doctor to become a Medicare provider, your thriftiest choice will be to change doctors. Your Tricare Service Center can help you get a list of Medicare providers in your area.
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