Packing Up and Moving with TRICARE


Does your family have permanent change of station, or PCS, orders to move to a new location this summer? According to the Department of Defense (DoD) website, the DoD moves more families than any other organization in the U.S. Whether you’re moving on government orders or on your own, you may have a lot of questions, including what will happen to your health care. Don’t worry, your TRICARE coverage moves with you. However, moving may change your TRICARE health plan options. And, as you prepare to move, the Military Health System encourages you to take measures to protect your wellness.

Moving is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). A QLE is a certain life change, like moving, getting married, or becoming eligible for Medicare. You may enroll in or change your TRICARE health plan outside of the annual TRICARE Open Season when you experience a QLE. You have 90 days from the date of your move to change your health plan, depending on your eligibility. When a QLE happens for one family member, it creates a QLE for the entire family. This means that other family members may be eligible to change TRICARE health care plans.

Before your move, use DoD resources to help you prepare. Don’t disenroll from your current health plan before you move. If you’re enrolled in TRICARE Prime and moving stateside to another Prime Service Area, you can transfer your TRICARE Prime enrollment once you arrive in your new location. If TRICARE Prime isn’t available there, or you simply want to make a change, you may be eligible to enroll in TRICARE Select. Active duty service members may only use TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Prime Remote. Visit the TRICARE Publications page and download the TRICARE Plans Overview to learn the differences between TRICARE plans.

Are you moving overseas? If so, call your TRICARE Overseas Program (TOP) Regional Call Center assigned to your new location. Only command-sponsored active duty family members can enroll in TOP Prime or TOP Prime Remote. Retirees and their family members are eligible for TOP Select overseas.

“To use TRICARE, your personal information needs to be current in DEERS,” said Mark Ellis, chief of the Policy and Programs Section of the TRICARE Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency. “After you move, updating your DEERS record is key to getting timely and effective TRICARE benefits.”

DEERS, or the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, is a database of active duty and retired service members, their family members, and others who are eligible for TRICARE. You can update your new address, phone number, and other personal information in DEERS. You can do this online, by phone, fax, mail, or in person at the nearest ID card office. Call to check with if the ID card office has updated office hours or social distancing policies before going. If you make changes to your health plan, the effective date will be the date your address change is effective in DEERS.

This moving season, travel safely and don’t forget to keep your family’s information current in DEERS. Take command of your health by learning more about what you need to do when you move based on your health plan.

At the time of posting, this information is current. For the most recent information, contact your TRICARE contractor or local military hospital or clinic.

Last Updated 10/14/2021