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Tricare Help: Is son eligible until age 23 or 26?

Jul. 12, 2012 - 07:05PM   |   Last Updated: Jul. 12, 2012 - 07:05PM  |  
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Q. My 22-year-old son is a junior in college. In some places, I read that he will lose his Tricare eligibility on his 23rd birthday, but elsewhere I read he can be covered until age 26. Which is it?

A. If your son remains a full-time student, he can indeed continue under your regular Tricare coverage until he reaches his 23rd birthday. At that time, he may transition into a relatively new program called Tricare Young Adult and stay in that program until his 26th birthday, as long as he remains unmarried and has no other health care coverage options, such as through an employer.

However, Tricare Young Adult requires payment of monthly premiums. Currently, those premiums are $201 per month for Tricare Prime or $176 a month for Tricare Standard.

You can get all the details about the Tricare Young Adult program at http://www.tricare.mil/tya">www.tricare.mil/tya.

Q. I am a "gray area" Army Reserve retiree. My wife and I are on Medicare. I will soon turn 60. Can we purchase Tricare for Life at that time?

A. Military retirees become eligible for Tricare for Life when they become eligible for Medicare. In the vast majority of cases, that happens at age 65. However, people with certain disabilities may qualify for Medicare earlier than age 65, which is apparently the case for you and your wife.

The basic eligibility requirement of Tricare for Life is that beneficiaries be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. The fact that you and your wife are already on Medicare means that when you cross the initial threshold to become eligible for military health care as a retired reservist at age 60, you will also become eligible for Tricare for Life at that time.

There is no need to "purchase" TFL coverage; the program charges no enrollment fees or deductibles. However, in addition to your Medicare Part B premiums of about $100 a month, retirees also pay some out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs under TFL.

Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or tricarehelp@militarytimes.com?subject=RE:Tricare">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.

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