A letter mistakenly sent to an unknown number of military retirees regarding their Tricare payments ― one that sought personal financial details and threatened a possible “interruption” in their benefit ― is being corrected, said a spokesman for Humana Military, the contractor who will take over administration of the new Tricare East region on Jan. 1.

These military retirees, who have their Tricare payments deducted by allotment from their retirement pay, mistakenly were told via a Nov. 28 letter that they needed to provide bank account or credit card information, along with Social Security number, by Dec. 24 to re-establish their payments with Human Military, or risk “an interruption in coverage.”

The corrected letters, scheduled to be sent this week, will clarify that military retirees making their payments through allotment won’t have to take any action, said Robert Bertrand, spokesman for Humana Military.

“Their payment method will remain the same and there will be no lapse in their coverage.” Bertrand said.

Humana officials are still working to determine how many military retirees received this letter in error, but it wasn’t sent to all retirees paying premiums through allotment.

“I have never paid for Tricare Prime through [bank account or credit card],” wrote Matthew Wisniewski, a retired Navy commander living in Connecticut, in an email to Military Times. “Whatever ‘records’ Humana is using are incorrect. I have always had [Defense Finance and Accounting Service take] payments directly from my retirement check ... .

“My sense is that thousands of Tricare beneficiaries in the North Region are now getting this letter. That is going to cause many of them to be frightened of losing health care coverage, so they will fill out the form and end up paying double premiums through DFAS and their bank,” he wrote.

In 2018, retirees in Tricare Prime pay a $289.08 enrollment fee for individuals and $578.16 for families.

Tricare is in the process of transitioning from three regions to two; the current North region will combine with the South region to become Tricare East, and Humana Military takes over Tricare East on Jan. 1. Tricare West region remains the same geographically.

“Only beneficiaries who currently pay [through their bank accounts or credit cards] need to provide payment information to Humana Military in order to ensure continued Tricare coverage,” said Bertrand. “We apologize deeply for the error.”

Humana’s service representatives are available at 800-444-5445, he said.

Tricare is also undergoing other changes, including combining Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra plans into one plan called Tricare Select. Officials have said all current Tricare beneficiaries will be enrolled automatically in their respective plans on Jan. 1.

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.

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