Fate has a peculiar sense of humor when it comes to military families.
Over the years, I swear no sooner had I
a) gotten settled in at a job I loved
b) found out I was pregnant
c) gotten settled in a job I loved and found out I was pregnant at the same time,
did my hubby call me up and say, “So, I just came down on orders for deployment.”
And while I had my share of long visits with family, I never made the choice that many military spouses make to move back home during a deployment. Being the one left to manage the homefront while your service member is down range isn’t dangerous, but it can be overwhelming. Medical issues, kids and just plain old loneliness make moving into your parents’ basement or a studio apartment up the street from your best friend very tempting.
In hindsight, moving back to a guaranteed support system and a familiar place would have probably lowered my stress level tremendously.
If you are contemplating moving home during a deployment, you may be wondering how or if Tricare coverage will work for your family. Can you seek treatment in a location other than your duty station? What if home is on the other side of the county? What if it’s on the other side of the world?
Here’s what you need to know about Tricare coverage if going home makes the most sense for you.
Tricare has made it very easy to get medical care, no matter where you live. And no matter where you move, you’ll still be covered.
Most active-duty families are enrolled in Tricare Prime. More often than not, if you move to a location within the United States you’ll be able to stay enrolled in Tricare Prime, but there are a few caveats:
- If you live within 30 minutes of a Military Treatment Facility (MTF) and they have Primary Care Managers availability, you MUST use that facility for care. If they do not have a PCM availability, you will need to pick a PCM from an approved network of doctors.
- If you live more than 30 minutes, but no more than 100 miles away from a MTF and they have a PCM availability, you can apply to receive care there, but the decision is made at the facility’s discretion. If they do not have availability, you will need to pick a PCM from an approved network of providers.
- If there is no available MTF or network PCM, it may be necessary to enroll in a different Tricare plan. These might include Tricare Standard or Tricare Standard Overseas. To check to see which plan is available in your area, use the Plan Finder tool on the Tricare website.
As you might imagine, Tricare service providers don’t exactly have a crystal ball, so if you are planning on moving, you will need to let them know. It’s as easy as a quick phone call, but don’t forget to do it or you may find it difficult to receive care or worse yet, end up with a bill. Plan and treatment options are based on the address where you will be living (see the caveats above).
If you need some time to find a place to live that’s OK, just make sure you get any routine care before moving. You can seek urgent and emergency care out of region while you are moving, but things like physicals will likely not be covered while you are in transit.
When the time comes and you are ready to move back to be with your service member, don’t forget to let Tricare know you are switching back.