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What Should I Know about Tricare When I Retire?

Start scheduling you and your family’s Tricare coverage planning at least six months before retiring. The required medical exams, let alone researching different coverage options and plans that may be a better fit due to a new location, are just part of the prep-work. Re-enrolling in an existing plan, changing plans and paying enrollment fees are just some of the changes you should be ready to meet.

The Military Times’ recent article titled “What you need to know about continuing Tricare coverage before you retire” advises that, to ensure proper healthcare after you separate, it’s essential to understand your Separation Health Assessment while you’re still active duty. Although the VA calls the exam the “disability exam,” all active duty are required to take it on the way out. This separation health assessment monitors your medical history and your current health. Before the exam, prepare and review your medical history and see that it’s complete and correctly notated. This specifically includes injuries and medical concerns which should be identified during your military career. You’ll need to complete a “Report of Medical History” or DD Form 2807-1 form before your exam.

At your retirement, your status, your family status and even plan options change, so you must be vigilant to avoid a break in coverage. Re-enrollment in your selected Tricare plan is usually required within 90 days after your retirement date from active duty — regardless of whether you’re planning to keep the same type of plan. Even if you’ve already enrolled in Tricare Prime or Tricare Select, you are required to re-enroll. You and your family will need to arrange for new ID cards. Some beneficiaries may also have to begin paying an annual enrollment fee.

If you miss the 90-day deadline, retroactive enrollment can be requested within 12 months of your retirement date. If approved for retroactive coverage, your enrollment fee or fees are also calculated retroactively to your retirement date. If you miss the 12-month deadline, you may only re-enroll during Tricare Open Enrollment Season or if you or a family member experience a Qualifying Life Event.

A retiree should expect to encounter costs. Depending on your current Tricare plan, they may include:

  • Annual enrollment fees and copayments for Tricare Prime
  • Higher copayments and cost-shares for Tricare Select
  • Possible higher prescription costs; and
  • Catastrophic cap increases.

Reference:  Military Times (Feb. 4, 2022) “What you need to know about continuing Tricare coverage before you retire”