Tricare gets a bad rap in the military world. Whenever you hear milspouses talking about Tricare, it’s typically bitching and moaning.
Friends, let me tell you something. Tricare sucks…until you don’t have it anymore. Someone cue the Janet Jackson…
While we were on Active Duty, we enjoyed the benefit of having Tricare Prime (and Tricare Prime Remote while he was in Korea). I never paid a co-pay, I didn’t think twice about making a doctor’s appointment if it was necessary, I had regular women’s and dental exams, etc. DH and I are pretty healthy people, so I don’t tend to need medical care that often, but when I did, Tricare was there. The only thing I had to supplement was my vision insurance, so that I could get the contacts and glasses that I’ve been wearing since age 12. Luckily, vision plans through my work have always been fairly inexpensive (+/- $15 a month).
As a reservist, you lose out on those Tricare benefits. Sure, we could be covered if DH was medically discharged and had a high percentage rate, but he wasn’t (which I’m thankful for). There is a transition program (TAMP) to help cover you after you end your military service, but no one gives clear information about it. We were told we couldn’t get it, then DH was told that we had it, etc, etc. So, the entire time when I thought I wasn’t covered, I really could’ve gone to the doctor.
Tricare does offer insurance to reservists, but Prime is no longer an option – it’s Tricare Standard or nothing at all! Standard is the military equivalent of a PPO, as you know, and I really prefer Prime (which is like an HMO). I don’t require a lot of specialized care, so I would much rather go to a general practitioner for free, then to pay co-pays. So, not only do you not have a choice anymore, but you also have to pay monthly premiums. Lest I sound like a complete whiny, crybaby, poopy pants, I know that the $197.76 monthly family premium is a lot less than what many civilians pay. However, when you’re essentially a one income family supporting three adults, the cost becomes a concern. There’s not many options either – we can insure DH alone, or insure all of us as a family. There’s no option for a dual military family to get a reduced rate for two service members and a dependent(s).
United Concordia (Tricare’s dental provider) has a lot more options for coverage. You can insure the service member, only one family member, all of the family members, or the service member and all family members. This works out a lot better for us, since we can opt to insure just DD (dear daughter) right now. The cost is more expensive for us again – AD families can insure their entire family for the amount that it’ll cost us to just insure DD.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s not a fair system, or that we should be entitled to the same benefits as active duty families, because I don’t believe that to be so. The assumption being made here is that a reservist has another job that may be covering their insurance and/or bringing in significantly more money than military pay, which isn’t true for us, sadly. I also know we’re fortunate to have the option of insurance, as many families do not.
As a dual military family, I’ll soon be considered on active duty status when I’m at BMT, which is going to be a great boost to our family income. I know we’re not the first ever dual military family, so you’d think that Tricare and DEERS would have this system figured out already. Wrong! When I asked about how our premiums and coverage would work when I began active duty, they said I had to manually switch DD over to my social security number in DEERS in order for her to be covered, as well as switch her to Tricare Prime. Apparently children can only be covered under one social security number. Don’t ask me why the system can’t recognize two military family members and automatically charge at the lower rate of whomever is active at that time. It’s ridiculous, really, since I’m sure I’m not the first person with this issue. I wasn’t originally planning to put DD as a dependent of mine, but I guess I am now. It makes no sense for us to pay reserve premiums while I’m on active duty. The whole thing sounds like another logistical nightmare for me to handle prior to my departure.
My own rambling and whining aside, the moral of this story is…
PS. I almost forgot! When we were purchasing said plans yesterday, we received an email from United Concordia, saying our policy was declined and our money refunded, because DD doesn’t live in our household. They told us we needed to update our DEERS. Uh, now I know we’re not the first non-custodial parents on the block! C’mon, really? So now DH has to attempt to handle all of this nonsense on Monday.