What is TriCare?

The Department of Defense provides excellent and affordable health care for members of all U.S. military branches. Before the 1980's, a couple of methods were available for health care delivery. Military members received treatment at military medical facilities, and retirees and family members received free treatment (space available) at military medical facilities, or could use a program known as CHAMPUS (Civilian Health and Medical Program Uniformed Services) to receive government-subsidized medical care from civilian providers.

TRICARE is a health care system with many options that replaced these former plans. TRICARE is somewhat complex, so you need to understand the system in order to get the best care for yourself and your dependents.

TRICARE is a regionally managed health care program for active duty and retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors. TRICARE brings together the health care resources of the Army, Navy and Air Force and supplements them with networks of civilian health care professionals to provide better access and high quality service while maintaining the capability to support military operations.

Mandatory Enrollment in TriCare

It is mandatory for ALL personnel on extended active duty for more than 30 days to enroll in Tricare. If personnel will be deployed to an active duty station then they must go to the Tricare Service Center on the active duty base and enroll in Tricare. If remaining at home station then they must enroll in TRICARE PRIME REMOTE.


Currently, five TRICARE options are available to service members and their families:

  • TRICARE Standard
  • TRICARE Prime Remote
  • TRICARE Assistance Management Program
  • TRICARE for Life
  • TRICARE Reserve Select
TRICARE Standard

is a program for active duty (Titles 10 & 32) service members, military families, and retirees prior to age 65. Under this plan enrollment is not required and there is no monthly premium. But this plan has a deductible, co-pays, and a catastrophic cap.

TRICARE Prime Remote

is a program for the active duty (Titles 10 & 32) members and their eligible dependants. Under this plan the member and eligible family members are required to sign up with a Primary Care Manager and receive care and referrals through this physician. This plan has no monthly premium, deductibles, co-pays, or catastrophic cap.

TRICARE Assistance Management Program

is a plan is for active duty (Titles 10 & 32) members and their eligible family members. This plan covers the active duty member after discharge from active duty and covers the member and their eligible family members with Tricare Standard for 180 days after discharge. (DOESN”T MAKE SENSE)

TRICARE for Life

is a plan for retirees who are covered by Medicare Part B. With Medicare Part B coverage paying 80%, TRICARE for Life pays the remaining 20%. With Medicare Part B and TRICARE for Life, retirees have 100% medical coverage. Plus, TRICARE for Life pays all but the $3.00, $9.00, or $22.00 cost share for prescription medication.

TRICARE Reserve Select

is a plan for drilling (traditional) members of the Guard or Reserve and their eligible family members. This plan works like TRICARE Standard. The service member pays monthly premiums, annual deductibles and cost shares. Monthly premiums for this plan are currently (as of 15 May 2009): member only $47.51; member and family coverage $180.17. Many service members are reporting that the cost of TRICARE Reserve Select is less than what the service member is paying for health coverage through a civilian sponsored health plan.

The first step to using any TRICARE Plan is to get all dependents enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).