Hundreds of thousands of military retirees will be required to pay an enrollment fee for Tricare Select starting Jan. 1, and if they don’t set up their payment by then, they’ll be disenrolled from the health care coverage, according to Defense Health Agency officials.
These fees affect retirees and their family members in the so-called Group A — the sponsor’s initial enlistment or appointment was before Jan. 1, 2018. The retirees in Group A are generally working-age retirees under age 65. Currently they don’t pay enrollment fees, but under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, Congress required defense officials to start charging these working-age retirees enrollment fees. It also applies to Tricare Overseas Program Select Group A retirees.
There were 407,431 military retirees and 764,936 retiree family members in Tricare Select at the end of 2019, according to a DoD report.
The law delayed the start of these fees until Jan. 1, 2021. Also starting in 2021, the catastrophic cap for how much these retirees pay out of pocket for Tricare-covered services increases from $3,000 to $3,500.
It doesn’t affect retirees in the Tricare for Life program, nor does it affect Chapter 61 retirees (receiving disability retirement) and their family members, and survivors of deceased active duty service members.
Active duty family members don’t pay Tricare Select enrollment fees.
Retirees can choose monthly payments or make one annual payment. The fee schedule, beginning Jan. 1, is:
|Monthly enrollment fee||Annual cost|
Tricare Select Group A retirees must take action to pay their fees. During the Tricare Open Season, they can set up an allotment, where feasible, for enrollment fees to be collected by their regional contractor starting Jan. 1, according to the announcement from Defense Health Agency. If the sponsor doesn’t receive pay through a defense pay center, he or she can schedule payments through electronic funds transfer, or a debit or credit card account.
The 2020 Tricare Open Season begins Nov. 9 and ends Dec. 14, 2020.
Those who don’t set up a payment will be disenrolled from Tricare Select due to non-payment, and beneficiaries will have 90 days from that termination to request reinstatement to the health care program, officials said.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.