Are you a military retiree who will lose Tricare Select coverage? You may not realize it yet — and you should take action to reinstate your coverage.

In 2021, for the first time, more than 850,000 retirees and family members enrolled in Tricare Select, must pay enrollment fees in order to continue their coverage. If you haven’t responded to the Defense Department’s clarion call to contact your Tricare regional contractor to set up a payment process, you lost coverage as of Jan. 1, and you’ll soon find your health care claims are denied.

But all is not lost. Defense officials have taken some steps to mitigate the impact to those who don’t set up their payments, said Mark Ellis, chief of policy and programs for the Tricare Health Plan.

These are so-called “Group A” retirees and their dependents — working-age retirees under age 65 who entered the military before Jan. 1, 2018, their family members and survivors. Previously, these beneficiaries didn’t have to pay enrollment fees for Tricare Select, but a 2017 law required the Defense Department to start charging these enrollment fees by Jan. 1, 2021. This doesn’t affect Tricare for Life.

The new fees are $12.50 per month, or $150 a year for an individual; and $25 a month, or $300 a year, for family coverage. These retirees/beneficiaries were urged to set up a payment process by the end of 2020 through their regional Tricare contractor, using allotment, recurring credit card or debit card transactions, or electronic funds transfer.

Tricare officials have extended the grace period for people to reinstate their Tricare Select coverage, from 90 days to 180 days, Ellis said. That means those who are terminated can pay their missed monthly premiums, and the coverage will be retroactive. Tricare will then pay the claims that were denied back to Jan. 1 because of the coverage termination.

Tricare officials have also directed the Tricare regional contractors to make at least three phone calls to households whose coverage was terminated because they didn’t set up their payments. They’ll call the home phone, cell phone, work phone, speaking to an adult in the household, letting them know their coverage has been terminated and what they can do to reinstate the coverage, Ellis said.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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