News Search

TRICARE coverage follows college-bound students

PHOENIX -- College-bound family members of active duty or retired service members can take comfort that their TRICARE coverage will make the journey with them.

Insurance industry studies have shown that as much as 10 percent of uninsured Americans are college students.

As long as the sponsor remains eligible for TRICARE benefits -- active duty, retired or eligible under the Transitional Assistance Management Program -- the eligible college-aged dependent will remain covered until age 21. Benefits will extend until the student is 23 if he or she remains a full-time student at an accredited institution and over half of their financial support comes from the sponsor. Eligible dependents moving to another state or even a different TRICARE region will have coverage.

A key for maintaining TRICARE eligibility is to ensure that the student's address, status and personal information is updated in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. If the information - including any change in address - is not updated, claims may be delayed or even denied.

Coverage ends when the student either turns 23, graduates or otherwise ceases to be a full-time student, whichever occurs first.

TRICARE Programs
The choice of TRICARE programs (Prime, Standard or Extra) will depend on where the student lives. If the student lives near a military treatment facility in what TRICARE designates a Prime Service Area, they may enroll in Prime. Prime coverage is also portable, following the student during travels or when returning home. To avoid out-of-pocket costs, non-emergency care must be coordinated with the student's primary care manager and regional contractor where they are enrolled.

Split enrollment allows the student with Prime coverage to live in a different TRICARE region than their sponsor. If an annual fee is due, it is due to the TRICARE regional contractor where the sponsor resides. One fee is paid per family, even if the TRICARE-eligible college dependent lives in another region. The student then coordinates care with a primary care manager where they are located.

Outside a PSA, TRICARE Standard and Extra are the only options. Standard and Extra coverage does not require enrollment, but the information in DEERS must be up-to-date.

Students who were previously enrolled in Prime Remote for Active Duty Family Members can transfer their Prime coverage if the college is in a PSA. In non-PSAs, Standard and Extra are available so you should disenroll from TPRADFM to avoid Point of Service charges.

TRICARE-eligible students may enroll for dental coverage, too, but it's separate from other TRICARE benefits. Depending on the sponsor's status, the TRICARE Dental Program or the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program is available for the student.

Students can get prescriptions through the TRICARE retail pharmacy network or from a local military treatment facility.

Helpful Web addresses
· TRICARE benefits for college students (www.tricare.mil/collegestudents)
· Find a local uniformed services identification card-issuing facility (www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl)
· DEERS information (www.tricare.mil/deers)
· Dental programs (www.tricaredentalprogram.com)
· Pharmacy programs (www.tricare.mil/pharmacy)
· TriWest Healthcare Alliance (www.triwest.com)