How TRICARE Is Responding to COVID-19 and What It Means for You

6/10/2020

The Military Health System (MHS) is working to improve your access to care during these trying times. In response to the national health emergency due to the pandemic, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) introduced temporary changes. Whether you’re an active duty service member or a military retiree, these changes can help you and your family.

“It’s more important now than ever for military personnel, their families, and others using TRICARE to know how to access their care,” said Dr. Danita Hunter, director of the TRICARE Health Plan at the DHA. “But know that the Defense Health Agency is adapting to changing circumstances.”

Here are four changes that you need to know:

1. Extension of the TRICARE Reserve Select Reinstatement Period

Are you a National Guard or Reserve member who’s fallen behind on their monthly TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) premium? If your coverage ended due to nonpayment, you now have five months (instead of three) from your last paid through date to request a reinstatement.

If your TRS coverage is reinstated, you’re still responsible for paying past due premiums and fees. If you have a claim that was denied while your coverage was suspended, you may resubmit it for payment. Keep in mind that these are only temporary changes during the national health emergency. Learn more about enrollment and premiums in the TRICARE Choices for the National Guard and Reserve Handbook. You can also visit the TRICARE Reserve Select page.

2. Extension of Certain Expired Referrals and Authorizations

Did you get a referral or authorization prior to the COVID-19 national emergency? If so, you may be eligible for an extension. Some referrals and authorizations that expired on or after March 1 or will expire by June 30 may be eligible for an additional 180 days extension. The extension comes as the MHS continues to support patient access to care. It also ensures medical staff aren’t overwhelmed. Your regional contractor and local military hospital and clinic will follow this guidance. Learn more about referrals and authorizations. You can also contact your regional contractor if you have questions.

3. Updated Albuterol and Levalbuterol Inhaler Restrictions

Quantity limits for Albuterol and Levalbuterol inhalers continue. But DHA has increased the availability of the inhalers at military pharmacies, retail network pharmacies, and through TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery:

  • You can now get up to three inhalers for a 90-day supply at a military pharmacy
  • You can get one inhaler at a retail network pharmacy to cover a 30-day supply (if prescribed as such, patients can pick up two inhalers to cover a 60-day supply or three inhalers to cover a 90-day supply with applicable copayments)
  • You can get up to three inhalers for a 90-day supply with home delivery

The inhaler restrictions went into effect to make sure patients with asthma and other conditions continue to have access to these medications for their health and readiness. Are you concerned about your inhaler supply? If so, you can ask your pharmacy for a refill. Also, be sure to contact them if you ever have an urgent shortage of medication. Learn more about these inhaler changes and the covered brands.

4. Resumption of Elective Procedures

Because of COVID-19, your military provider or dentist may have delayed an elective surgery or procedure. You’re now a step closer to getting it back on track. Military hospital, clinic, and dental clinic commanders or directors will now consider a number of factors in determining whether their hospital or clinic can schedule an elective procedure.

Check with your provider to find out if they can resume your procedure. Visit the TRICARE Changes page to learn more.

Your health and safety continue to be a priority during the national health emergency. Go to the TRICARE Coronavirus FAQs page for more information. Stay safe and take command of your health.  

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Last Updated 6/23/2020