Our surveys of military families across the country have consistently shown a need for better access to health care.
TRICARE, a health care program managed by the Defense Health Agency, provides coverage for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families. This coverage includes health plans, prescription drug plans, dental plans, and special programs for specific health conditions, populations, or concerns.
Military families can choose from multiple options for health insurance. Below, we break down the key elements of each option to help families make the decision that’s best for them.
- TRICARE Prime: Active-duty service members must enroll in TRICARE Prime, while other service members also have the choice of TRICARE Select. Under Prime, you are assigned a primary care manager who provides much of your care. When compared with TRICARE Select, Prime typically has fewer out-of-pocket costs but offers less freedom when choosing providers.
- TRICARE Select: This is a self-managed, preferred provider organization (PPO) plan that lets you choose your health care provider. Among those eligible are family members of active-duty service members, as well as retirees and their families. TRICARE Select is a good choice if you live in an area where you can’t use TRICARE Prime, or if you have a provider who is not in the Prime network and you don’t want to switch. Your costs will vary depending on your sponsor’s military status.
- TRICARE Prime Overseas: This is a managed care option for active-duty service members and others living near military hospitals and clinics overseas. Under this option, you’ll receive most of your care from an assigned primary care manager at one of these facilities. In addition, there is a Prime Remote Overseas option for those living in designated locations.
- TRICARE Select Overseas: This plan provides comprehensive coverage overseas for active-duty family members, as well as for veterans and their families. In some cases, this may be your only option while living outside the United States.
- TRICARE Young Adult: Adult children whose TRICARE coverage ends at age 21 (or 23, if they’re enrolled in college) can purchase additional coverage through this plan. You are eligible if you’re an unmarried adult (21–25 years old) child who has an eligible sponsor, is not eligible to enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan, and is not otherwise eligible for TRICARE coverage.
- US Family Health Plan: This additional TRICARE Prime option is available for active-duty families, retirees and their families, and others through the network’s community-based, not-for-profit health care systems located in six designated areas of the U.S.
In our 2019 Military Family Support Programming Survey, almost three-fourths (72.3%) of active-duty family respondents indicated that TRICARE Prime was their primary form of health care coverage. Military retiree respondents reported TRICARE for Life was their primary form of health care coverage.
You can confirm your TRICARE eligibility online or by calling 800-538-9552.
Military Health System (MHS) GENESIS offers a single system to provide improved access to health care information, enabling more efficient and timely delivery of care for service members, veterans, and their families.
The MHS GENESIS Patient Portal offers 24/7 access to comprehensive health information and includes the options to manage your appointments and exchange messages with health care providers.
For the latest information on health care, visit the MHS GENESIS page.