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Fee Changes Announced for Some TRICARE Users

Washington Report

Grey-area retirees will pay a little more and drilling National Guardsmen a little less for their TRICARE medical coverage, according to information updated on the program’s website.

The changes go into effect Jan. 1 after a 2017 revision that moved TRICARE from a fiscal-year fee system to one based on the calendar year. 

Officials have not yet released updated enrollment fees for traditional retirees.

Starting in 2019, TRICARE Retired Reserve users will pay $451.51 monthly for individuals and $1,083.40 for families, up from the 2018 rates of $431.35 for individuals and $1,038.31 for families.

Retired National Guardsmen and Reservists under age 60 are eligible for the coverage.   

TRICARE Reserve Select users will pay $42.83 each month for individual coverage and $218.01 for families. Current monthly fees are $46.09 a month for an individual and $221.38 for a family. 

The low cost is due to the requirement for the Defense Department to pick up 72 percent of program costs. 

Most drilling Guardsmen and Reservists are eligible for TRS. A notable exception are Guardsmen who work full-time for the federal government. This includes Guard dual-status federal technicians. They must purchase their coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. 

Enrollment fees aren't the only out-of-pocket costs changing in 2019. Co-pays for active-duty families and retiree TRICARE Select users will go up slightly in some categories, based on the annual cost-of-living adjustment.

The COLA adjustment, which will be officially announced later this October, is currently estimated at about 2.8 percent.

For TRICARE Select retirees, that means co-pays for primary-care providers are projected to go up from $28 to $29, emergency room co-pays will increase from $109 to $111, urgent care co-pays will go up $1 to $29, and ambulance co-pays will increase from $98 to $102.

Active-duty family Select users are also projected to see some COLA-based cost increases. For those users, ambulance co-pays will go from $74 to $76, while emergency room visits will go up $2 to $83 per visit.