TRICARE Qualifying Life Event: Marriage


Did you know that over half of all active duty services members are married? Just over 51%, in fact, according to a Department of Defense study in 2018. If you’re newly married or marriage is in your immediate future, it’s important to learn how getting married impacts your health plan options. Spouses of service members are eligible for TRICARE coverage.

Because getting married is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE), you may change your health plan outside of the annual TRICARE Open Season. Your spouse and eligible children may also gain TRICARE coverage. Your spouse’s options will depend on your military status and where you live. Remember that different family members may be eligible for different plans. You can learn more about your plan eligibility and health plans by using the TRICARE Plan Finder. You can also download the TRICARE Plans Overview.

“When you get married, look at your current health care coverage, your budget, and any plans to grow your family,” said Mark Ellis, chief of the Policy and Programs Section of the TRICARE Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency. “Marriage is a QLE, which means you have an opportunity to make eligible enrollment changes and choose health plans that match you and your family’s new needs.”

If you choose to change your TRICARE plan, or enroll any new eligible family members, you have 90 days from the date of your marriage to do so. If you miss the 90-day window, you won’t be able to make changes to your TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select coverage until the next open season, or after another QLE. Your coverage begins on the date of the QLE. It continues unless you lose eligibility or you disenroll from your health plan.

Enrolling or Changing Coverage for Your Spouse

The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is a database of all personnel who are eligible for TRICARE. After you get married, register your new spouse in DEERS so they can be eligible to get TRICARE benefits, if they choose. To do this, find an ID card office near you using the RAPIDS Site Locator. Be sure to call or check the website to see if operating hours or procedures for the ID card office have changed due to COVID-19.

You’ll need to provide either originals or certified copies of the following required documents:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Spouse’s birth certificate
  • Spouse’s Social Security card
  • Spouse’s photo ID

If you’re adding children as dependents, you’ll also need certain documents to register them in DEERS. These include:

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Marriage certificate (for step-child)

“You must update DEERS before contacting your TRICARE regional contractor to make any changes to your or your family member’s health care coverage,” said Ellis.

After registering in DEERS and choosing a plan, follow the steps to enroll your spouse or children in a TRICARE health plan. You can make enrollment changes with your regional contractor online, by phone, or by mail. Keep in mind, the effective date of your coverage will be the date of the QLE.

Visit the Qualifying Life Events page to learn more about the marriage QLE and other QLEs you might experience in the future. You can also download the new TRICARE Qualifying Life Events Fact Sheet. Also, check to see what dental and vision coverage options are available to your new spouse. Step into your future by taking command of your health with TRICARE.

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