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Changes to TRICARE Coming Next Year

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The chief of the military medical system is urging soldiers and spouses alike to be ready for changes to TRICARE that will take place at the beginning of next year.

“This is a reminder to make sure your DEERS [Defense Enrollment and Eligibility Reporting System] information is accurate,” Navy Vice Adm. Raquel C. Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency, told an audience this week at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for you to transition to the new health care environment,” Bono said.

According to fact sheets provided at the presentation, TRICARE Standard and Extra are being amalgamated into the new TRICARE Select program. The sheets state that benefits will broaden for “at least 85 percent of our U.S. beneficiaries.”

Preventive care, obesity treatment, high-value care and telehealth options also would expand, the fact sheets state.

“I do want to stress … why we changed things,” Bono said. “We see what is happening with health care in the private sector. We want to be able to give you a product that mirrors [those changes].”

Bono also expressed her commitment to ensure the military health care system remains poised to take care of its family members and most vulnerable patients.

“How well we take care of our families … signifies how strong we will continue to be in the future,” Bono said.

She specifically mentioned young children and elderly retirees, as well as those who would need hospice or other state-of-the-art care.

Bono also said the time might soon come when such treatments as acupuncture and chiropractic would be covered under TRICARE.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is look at the evidence – the outcomes associated with these treatments. We’re looking at private health care programs to see how they’re addressing it,” Bono said. “When we have enough evidence, we’ll have that conversation.”

--Nick Adde