As America’s military members focus on their mission readiness requirements, their spouses dive into theirs – maintaining the home front. This role includes navigating thing like the headbanging experience of coordinating life with military insurance. We’ve collected some tips to help you find the best ways to navigate military insurance.
When a military spouse says “I do”, they don’t typically really know all of the things they’ll be taking on. Most definitely didn’t realize they might forget their own social security number because they constantly use their service member’s social for all of the things, especially those associated with TRICARE and dental insurance needs. Understanding how to utilize military insurance is one of the first lessons every military spouse learns.
Enrollment for medical insurance
First, there has to be a “qualifying life event” (QLE) which opens up health plan options within TRICARE. The first QLE you may experience will probably be the marriage to the service member followed by the birth of any children. Others include change in service, divorce or death. When things like this occur, you have 90 days to enroll or change things within TRICARE. After that, you are quite literally stuck until open enrollment occurs. Open enrollment begins on the Monday of the second full week of November through the Monday of the second full week in December. It’s imperative that you either make the decision within 90 days of your QLE or during open enrollment, otherwise you can only receive care at a military hospital or clinic if space is available.
Then you must decide which plan is best for you and your family. There are a few to choose from with the most popular being TRICARE Select and TRICARE Prime. Read through each carefully before making your decision, because once you do you are stuck with it until the following year’s open enrollment period.
Enrollment for dental insurance
Fun fact: dental insurance providers change periodically for military dependents. As of August of 2020, the dental provider of record is Untied Concordia. Dental is a voluntary benefit and the service member has to enroll the spouse and dependents, which can be done at any time. The only caveat is that the dental coverage is maintained for at least 12 months, with some exceptions.
TRICARE Prime offers vision checkups with glasses only provided if there is a serious medical condition. If dependents have vision needs, the sponsor can enroll in a voluntary vision insurance program during open enrollment beginning on the Monday of the second full week of November through the Monday of the second full week in December or if you experience a QLE.
Once you’ve got your medical and dental coverage, then the hard work of finding providers that will accept it begins. Oh, and finding said providers who will actually bill things correctly so that you don’t end up with heart–palpitation inducing bills.
If you have questions about TRICARE, you can meet with benefit coordinators on your base or call TRICARE directly. You can even do a secure online chat.