More than 4,000 Tricare Prime beneficiaries in the former North region must make a one-time payment to cover their January enrollment fees thanks to mistakes with their allotments during the transition to the new Tricare East region contractor.
Humana Military, the contractor for the new East region, will send a letter to the affected beneficiaries, Defense Health Agency spokesman Kevin Dwyer said. There will be no coverage lapses because of the error, no beneficiaries will be disenrolled, and the allotments will resume in February, Dwyer said.
Only beneficiaries who pay enrollment fees by allotment were affected by the glitch. Active-duty service members and their family members don’t pay enrollment fees in Tricare Prime.
On Jan. 1, Tricare North and Tricare South regions merged to become the new Tricare East region. The contractor for Tricare East is Humana Military, which formerly managed Tricare South.
During the transition process, as the beneficiary data files were transferred from the outgoing Tricare North contractor to Humana Military, all payments by allotment were stopped. However, 4,053 Prime beneficiaries in the former North region were not included in the data file to start new allotments with Humana Military, according to Dwyer.
In the letter from Humana Military, affected beneficiaries are instructed to call Humana Military at 800-444-5445 or visit its website (www.tricare-east.com) to make a payment.
Over the last month, there have been at least two incidents involving Tricare allotments and concerns about continued coverage. A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel in New Mexico told Military Times that he checked his retiree account statement Dec. 20 and discovered his retirement pay didn’t include the usual allotment to pay for his Tricare Prime coverage in Tricare West.
Earlier in December, Humana Military mistakenly sent a letter to an unknown number of military retirees in the then-Tricare North region notifying them that they would have to pay their Tricare Prime premiums electronically from their bank account or credit card, even though many of those retirees were paying by allotment from their retirement pay.
Humana Military subsequently sent letters to affected beneficiaries apologizing and notifying them of the mistake. The letter clarified that the affected beneficiaries were not required to take any action to continue their Tricare Prime benefit.
Now, 4,053 Tricare Prime beneficiaries who were formerly part of Tricare North will indeed have to make those one-time payments.
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.