Health Care

Tricare Health: Military versus federal health coverage

Q. I'm a reservist enrolled in Tricare Reserve Select. I am pursuing a career as a federal employee. If that happens, I've been told I would not be able to keep my Tricare coverage and would have to switch to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Is there a grace period for such a switch? And which FEHBP option most closely resembles Tricare Reserve Select?

A. You would indeed have to drop your TRS coverage if you take a job that offers FEHBP coverage. It would not even matter whether you choose to enroll in FEHBP; if your employer offers it, you are ineligible for TRS.

You can end your TRS coverage at any time, effective at the end of any month you specify. To do that, go online and log on to the Defense Manpower Data Center DMDC Reserve Component Purchased TRICARE Application, then follow the instructions to "Disenroll."

Print, sign and mail or fax your completed DD Form 2896-1 to the managed-care contractor for your Tricare region. Contacts for all Tricare regional contractors is here.

Again, the effective end date is either the last day of the month in which the request is postmarked or received, or the last day of a future month specified by you. This lets you coordinate the timing of your TRS disenrollment so you have little or no break in coverage when you pick up FEHBP coverage.

It's important not to delay informing your Tricare regional contractor that you'll be leaving TRS.

TRS is modeled on Tricare Standard, a "fee-for-service plan" that lets you see any network provider that accepts Tricare. The FEHBP has similar plans; get more details about comparable options here.

Correction

The Aug. 31 Tricare Help column inaccurately characterized Tricare Young Adult eligibility for college students over age 21. The correct information follows.

Q. I have Tricare coverage through my parents. I'm a full-time college student who will turn 21 very soon. I may need to drop a class because I've been sick and falling behind. That would put me under 12 semester hours. Would this bar me from Tricare Young Adult eligibility after I hit 21?

A. Tricare does not determine full-time student status; individual schools do that, so check with your school. If dropping that class indeed would make you a part-timer, then you'd lose eligibility for ordinary Tricare Prime or Standard upon turning 21.

But children of Tricare sponsors remain eligible for Tricare Young Adult until age 26 regardless of student status, as long as they stay single and have no access to other health coverage, such as through an employer.

Email tricarehelp@militarytimes.com. Include the word "Tricare" in the subject line.

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