We Encourage You To Apply Right Away
If you wait to apply for VA health care until after your enhanced eligibility period ends, we wont factor your OEF/OIF/OND combat Veteran status into our decision on your enrollment. Instead, well base your eligibility on factors such as your income and VA disability rating. So even if you dont think you need medical care right now, we encourage you to apply for VA health care right away to take advantage of this enhanced eligibility period.
You may qualify for enhanced eligibility if you meet all of the requirements listed below.
All of these must be true. You:
- Served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and
- Were discharged or released from active service on or after January 29, 2003, and
- Didnt receive a dishonorable discharge
Well use the documents listed below to determine your service in a theater of combat operations:
- Military service documentation that reflects service in a combat theater, or
- Receipt of combat service medals, or
- Receipt of combat tax exemption, imminent danger, or hostile fire pay
If you qualify for enhanced eligibility as an OEF/OIF/OND combat Veteran:
You may be eligible for one-time dental care for any needed conditions. Be sure to apply within 180 days of discharge or separation. You may also qualify for VA dental care based on other factors. Find out if you may be eligible for VA dental care
Overview Of Va Health Care
Contrary to some common misconceptions, many veteransnot just combat veterans or veterans with a service-related disabilitycan access health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Even National Guard members and Reservists who completed a call-up by federal order, excluding training missions, can qualify for VA health coverage.
Along with service requirements, the department considers household income to help determine your level of coverage. You can learn more about VA healthcare eligibility here.
Eligibility For Tricare Health Care Plans
All active-duty personnel must register for TRICARE Prime. Those eligible include:
- Members of the uniformed services and their family members
- Army National Guard
- Medal of Honor recipients and families
- Those registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
There are different versions of Prime offered depending on where the military member is stationed:
- TRICARE Prime When seeking care under TRICARE Prime, you may be referred to either a military facility or an in-network caregiver. Those who use a military clinic or hospital as the primary care source may have the option to book appointments online.
- TRICARE Prime Remote Military members may not always have a Primary Care Manager depending on availability in remote assignment locations. Those who do not have a PCM can use any TRICARE-authorized caregiver.
- TRICARE Prime Overseas Military members will have an assigned PCM at the nearest military hospital/clinic/etc. Those who need a referral or an appointment with a non-military facility at an overseas location will need to contact the TRICARE Overseas office for assistance.
- TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas Those who need care under TRICARE Remote Prime Overseas, Contact the appropriate Regional Call Center to schedule appointments.
S To Enroll Or Change Plans
Enrolling or changing your enrollment always should begin with making sure your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System profile is up to date.
You can then enroll online or by phone using the Tricare Web site during Open Season. If you miss Open Season but have a Qualifying Life Event, you can request special enrollment by phone.
If Youre Being Medically Retired From Active Duty
You may be eligible to receive care through VA for any service-connected disabilities. You may also qualify to receive all other care through TRICARE. Your eligible family members may also qualify for care through TRICARE.
To learn more about your options, talk with a VA benefits counselor. Your counselor will help you determine what your military and VA medical board ratings mean and how they affect your options. Your counselor will also help you apply for benefits.
Call our health benefits hotline at to connect with a benefits counselor. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: . Were here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Or contact your nearest VA medical center.
Civilian Health Care Options
The following health insurance options are usually available to the general public but are worth exploring when you are making the transition from the military, or any time you need to renew your plan or look for a new health insurance provider.
Here are some health care options available to the general public:
- Group and Individual Health Insurance This includes employer-sponsored plans and plans that can be found through the Affordable Care Act.
- Student Health Insurance Plans generally available to students at some community colleges and universities. Often very affordable.
- Medicaid and Low-Income Options Income-based eligibility.
- Christian Health Sharing Ministries such as Medi-Share, Liberty HealthShare, and others. These organizations are often more affordable than traditional health insurance but may have some limitations surrounding pre-existing conditions.
Guard Chief Wants Free Health Care For All Troops Activated Or Not
The head of the National Guard Bureau wants free health care coverage for every guardsman, calling it an issue of both strategic and moral importance for the military force.
What happens if they get sick or injured when they come off orders? said Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the bureau, during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. Theyre doing the same job as their active or reserve counterparts, but they are treated differently.
One of my most pressing concerns is premium free health care for every guardsmen who serves in uniform.
The comments came during a congressional review of the National Guards spending priorities for fiscal 2022. Last year was the busiest for the Guard in the last eight decades, with more than 120,000 guardsmen deployed to overseas missions and domestic operations, including the pandemic relief effort.
But that increased workload has also brought increased attention to the benefits available to part-time troops.
While on federal active-duty orders for more than 30 days, guardsmen and reservists are eligible for the same medical coverage as active-duty troops. But service members activated for less than a month have fewer options, and have to pay for coverage on their own.
Establishing full-time health care for all National Guard troops nationwide could prove costly, however.
But lawmakers said they are open to the discussion.
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Tricare Program For Retirees
TRICARE is the health insurance program for military beneficiaries. Active duty servicemembers and their dependents are mostly exempt from TRICARE fees however, this changes with a change in status . Coverage and fees can vary with regard to the TRICARE coverage elected and depend on whether: the military sponsor is on active duty or retired, the beneficiary is eligible for Medicare, or the beneficiary uses military or civilian facilities for health care and medications.
TRICARE PROGRAMS FOR RETIRED SERVICEMEMBERS AND FAMILY MEMBERS
**See also U.S. Family Health Plan
Under current law, military disability retirees are exempt from annual increases in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees and pharmacy copayments that apply to non-disability retirees. Military disability retirees do not include all retirees who have a disability rating from the VA. They only include those who received a medical retirement from their branch of service. To ensure exemption from future annual fee increases, retirees in this category should contact DEERS to ensure their records reflect the medical/disability retirement as a Chapter 61 retiree.
Medicare and TRICARE benefits for SSDI-eligible members under age 65 are identical to those TFL-eligible members over age 65. This is known as dual-eligible, meaning beneficiaries are eligible for both TRICARE and Medicare under age 65.
Your New Retirement Benefits: The Biggest Change In Decades
As of 2018, all service members entering the military are automatically enrolled in the new Blended Retirement System, or BRS. Only those with service prior to 2018 remain in the legacy, all-or-nothing 20-year pension plan.
BRS combines traditional monthly retirement checks of the legacy system with some new features that allow military members to take some government benefits with them even if they dont serve up to the 20-year mark to qualify for a retirement pension.
Historically, only 19 percent of active-duty service members and 14 percent of National Guard and Reserve members serve long enough to get retirement benefits.
In 2018, more than 400,000 eligible service members opted in to the new BRS, out of the 1.6 million currently serving active-duty and reserve troops who were eligible to make a choice between the legacy system and the new system.
Whether you opted in or are part of the new crop of service members automatically enrolled in BRS, you need to pay attention to the key elements of the BRS, because its a critical part of your retirement planning and financial future:
Those currently retired under the legacy system will see a 1.3-percent increase in monthly their monthly benefits in 2021, down from 2020s 1.6-percent cost-of-living increase.
Thrift Savings Plan
Lump sum retirement pay option
You can find more information about the Blended Retirement system here.
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Military Healthcare For Guard And Reserves
Members of the Selected Reserve and their families can be covered under Tricare Reserve Select when they are not on active duty orders, not covered under the Transitional Assistance Management Program, and not eligible to be enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program .
However, members in the Individual Ready Reserve, including Navy Reserve Volunteer Training units, do not qualify for Tricare Reserve Select.
If you do become activated, youre eligible to go back on Tricare Prime.
Like Tricare Select, you must use a Tricare-authorized provider. There are fees involved with this program, which will be lower if you use an in-network provider than it will be with a non-network provider.
Fees involved include monthly premiums, an annual deductible, and cost-share for covered services
Once again, theres a long list of copayments and cost-shares listed on the Tricare Reserve Select cost page, but heres a summary of the more significant ones:
Tricare Reserve Select is only available to members who are actively serving in the regular Reserves.
Retired Guard and Reserve members. Reserve Component members who retiree will be eligible for Tricare Reserve Select Retiree, which has higher premiums .
Reserve Component retirees are eligible for the same military retiree health care as active duty members when they reach age 60. See the next section for full details.
Current Bah Rates Aim To Cover 95 Percent Of Housing Costs
This year, Basic Allowance for Housing increased 2.9 percent this year, up from 2020s 2.8 percent increase, setting the tax-free benefit at a level intended to cover 95 percent of the anticipated housing costs for each assigned duty post in the U.S. Individual service members are now expected to pay the remaining 5 percent of housing costs with out-of-pocket cash.
What is BAH?
Basic Allowance for Housing provides service members not living on base or in government-provided housing a cash supplement to be able to rent housing at local market rates. The amount paid to a service member depends on rank, whether or not they have dependents, and where they are based.
Any active-duty service member stationed in the 50 U.S. states who is not provided with government housing is eligible. Those stationed in U.S. territories, possessions or overseas who are not provided government housing are eligible for an Overseas Housing Allowance, which is calculated under a separate formula.
BAH is non-taxable, and unlike the Overseas Housing Allowance, if a service member can find housing below the BAH rate for their assigned location, they are able to pocket the difference, because what service members actually spend is not used to calculate BAH.
How BAH is calculated
Rates very widely
Check your rates
For details of locations across the country, you can use the Defense Departments official BAH calculator here.
What if BAH for my area is cut while I live there?
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What Is Tricare Extra
TRICARE Extra is different than TRICARE Prime because it is a fee for service program that gives you slightly more flexibility in choosing your providers. However, you typically still have to use in-network providers. This program is only available to those living in the United States.
Active duty members cannot enroll in TRICARE Extra, but their family members can. Retired service members, retired reserve members who are over the age of 60 and receiving army benefits, current reserve members, and their family members are all eligible to enroll in TRICARE Extra.
There is typically a deductible associated with a TRICARE Extra plan. Once you meet this deductible, your only out-of-pocket expense should be the copay you give to your medical provider. Your doctor should file your insurance claims for you.
Unlike with TRICARE Prime, you typically do not need a referral to see a specialist. However, you may need prior authorization from your insurance provider before they will pay for some medical services.
Is It Possible For Me To Obtain It
Military personnel has challenging and frequently deadly occupations. Some military vocations, such as fighter pilots and ground troops, cannot obtain life insurance because their line of work deem too dangerous by some insurance firms. Finding an insurance company that knows the military and will cover you regardless of your military career is a solid bet.
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Overview: Which Government Programs Provide Healthcare To Active Duty Military Retirees And Veterans
TRICARE provides health coverage for active duty and retired service members, their families, and survivors. TRICARE is run by the Department of Defense . CHAMPVA is a VA health program.
These two programs are often confused. This confusion is made worse by the fact that TRICARE used to be called CHAMPUS. In some cases veterans may look on paper to be eligible for both programs. However, if you are a military retiree, or the spouse of a veteran who was killed in action, you are and will always be a TRICARE beneficiary. You cant choose between the two.
Below are Frequent Asked Questions about TRICARE. Click on a link below to go directly to a specific question or scroll down to read all the questions and answers.
Final Thoughts On Military Healthcare
As you can see, there are medical and dental programs available for current and former military members at all stages of both their careers and their lives.
But on balance, the plans are less expensive and more comprehensive than what are available to the general civilian population.
Carefully evaluate any plan youre considering, and get advice from plan administrators. These plans are good, but the terms can be fairly complicated.
Also be aware that the plan you select now will be subject to change, based on your service level and other factors.
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Rights And Benefits Of Reservists Called To Active Duty
Under title 10, United States Code, and Executive Order 13223 of September 14, 2001, the President has authorized the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation to respond to the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States by ordering any unit and any member of the Ready Reserve to active duty for not more than 24 consecutive months.
The Federal Government is by far the largest single employer of members of the Armed Forces Reserves, and we as Federal employees are proud of the dedication and commitment of these fellow workers in a time of international crisis. Our first obligation as an employer is to make sure that those friends and colleagues who perform active military duty are able to leave their employment temporarily with the knowledge that their affairs are in order and their rights protected. Federal law provides many important rights and benefits for Federal employees who perform active military duty. An overview of these rights and benefits, as required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 , is provided in Attachment 1. I urge agencies to share this information with all affected employees as soon as possible.
Attachment 2 reminds agencies of their authority and obligation to provide certain premium pay benefits to civilian employees who perform emergency work in support of this national emergency.
Employees who served more than 180 days have 90 days to apply for reemployment.
Travel Benefits And Vacation Time
With installations throughout the world, the military pays relocation expenses for you and your family. In addition to seeing the world while serving your country, military members and their families are eligible for “space-available” military flights to almost anywhere in the world at little or no cost and for space-available lodging at any military base. Additionally, there are world-class resorts only for military personnel, such as Shades of Green near Walt Disney World, the Hale Koa Hotel on Waikiki and resorts in Japan, Germany and South Korea.
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What Are The Dental Options For Members Of The Army Reserve
Members of the army reserve who are on active duty are eligible for TRICARE Active Duty Dental coverage. This insurance plan covers dental treatment at private civilian facilities.
The TRICARE dental plan is for family members of those in the military and for reservists who are not on active duty.
In order to qualify for the TRICARE dental plan, reserve members must have at least one year left in the service because you enroll in the plan for a one-year period.
You have to pay a monthly premium towards this service, as well as some additional out-of-pocket costs. The price varies depending on your military status and whether you enroll as an individual or on a family plan. This program is available in the United States and abroad.
If you are stationed in the United States, you can enroll in the program online. If you are stationed outside of the United States, it is not possible to enroll online.