Salute to Spouses Blog

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Tricare Rules Change This Year

While Congress argues over changes to Obamacare, military families are facing a change in medical care that was slid through Congress with little fanfare last year – but could have serious impact.

Beginning later this year active duty families will have to choose between Tricare Standard (soon to be called Tricare Select) or Tricare Prime which puts families into military treatment facilities only. Families will not be able to switch to a civilian Tricare Standard doctor and instead must wait until the next open enrollment period each year to do so.

Currently, family members who can’t get an appointment on base or who are unhappy with their doctor on base can simply call Tricare and request a civilian provider. Once open enrollment begins, families will be locked into the plan (military or civilian) for at least a year.

Officials said there will be qualifying life events such as marriage, birth and relocation that allow families the option to switch between the two plans, however the law did not outlaw what those events will be. The Defense Health Agency, which overseas Tricare, has not set those policies yet.

The move alarms military support organizations. The National Military Family Association posted on their website, “We’re concerned that an annual open enrollment period may effectively trap military families in the MTF, regardless of the problems they experience with access or quality of care.”

To learn more about the Tricare program, visit

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