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Tricare Help: Spouse can maintain Tricare eligibility throughout marriage

Nov. 21, 2013 - 02:01PM   |  
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Q. My husband will turn 65 next year and go on Medicare and Tricare for Life. Will my Tricare coverage continue until I turn 65 a year later, or should I enroll in my company’s health insurance program for 2014?

A. As the spouse of a military retiree, you will never lose Tricare eligibility as long as you remain married. You may stay on whatever Tricare plan you currently use (most likely Tricare Prime or Standard) until you also reach age 65, at which time you’ll make the same transition to Tricare for Life.

Newly Medicare-eligible individuals normally receive their Medicare cards three months before turning 65. When your husband receives his, he should contact the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System to update his information file to reflect the fact that he has transitioned to Tricare for Life. He should do the same for you when you go through that process.

He can engage DEERS by visiting the ID Card/DEERS office on any military installation or by calling the main DEERS support office in California at 800-538-9552.

Q. I recently got my Defense Department ID card and enrolled in DEERS. If I go to a doctor, do I need a Tricare card, too? Also, my daughter is six months old and has to have her shots renewed at nine months, but because of her age, she doesn’t have an ID card yet. Would I show my card for that? I'm new to all of this, and nothing seems clear. I’m not even sure what Tricare plan we have.

A. There is no such thing as a “Tricare ID card.” Your DoD ID card, with the notation on the back that says you are eligible for medical benefits, is all you need. Your child does not need a DoD ID card; dependent children normally are not issued military ID cards until they reach age 10. However, your daughter must also be enrolled in DEERS to be covered under Tricare. You’re correct in that your ID card is sufficient to get health care for your daughter.

The two basic Tricare plans are Tricare Prime and Tricare Standard. Active-duty members and their families are automatically covered under Tricare Prime, the military’s version of an HMO. Prime requires payment of an annual enrollment fee, but active-duty members and their families are exempt from that fee. Under Prime, you establish a primary care doctor, either at a military treatment facility or in the civilian community, and that is your primary health care point of contact. The primary care manager will refer you to any specialty care you or your daughter may need.

You can read up on the details of Tricare Prime, as well as the various other Tricare plans, at
Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or In email, include the word “Tricare” in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice any time at

Answers by RallyPoint

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