(The following is provided as a public service from the Fort Huachuca Retiree Council and was written by Melanie Mouras)
TRICARE contract award affirmed
After a lengthy appeals process, the Government Accountability Office affirmed the Pentagonâ€™s contract award of the TRICARE West Region to United Healthcare. United Healthcare will assume control of the contract, which includes TRICARE beneficiaries in Arizona, on April 1, 2013. During the transition, though beneficiary coverage remains the same, patients should be alert to administrative changes.
TRICARE protected under the Affordable Care Act
With the US Supreme Court decision to uphold the Individual Mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, TRICARE has published clarification to address rumors and avoid potential confusion. TRICARE beneficiaries will not be fined or required to purchase additional coverage to meet the minimum essential coverage provisions of the healthcare law. The law provides a specific exemption for TRICARE beneficiaries from the requirement to buy private insurance or pay a $750 tax for failure to add coverage. Because the original healthcare legislation did not specifically exempt TRICARE beneficiaries, the TRICARE Affirmation Act was enacted and signed in April, 2010, to protect those in military healthcare programs from being penalized for not having private insurance.
Go paperless with benefits statements
TRICARE offers a way to cut down on mail clutter via paperless benefits statements, referral and authorization letters and fee statements. Paperless communications are housed safely in a secure, password-protected account. At any time and from anywhere with an internet connection, a person may log into their account on their phone, or on their desktop or tablet computer.
For more information, visit the â€œTriWest Go Paperlessâ€ webpage, www.triwest.com/en/beneficiary/go-paperless.
TRICARE covers cancer screenings
Though cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States, many common types of cancer are treatable if detected early. Screenings improve the chances of preventing cancer before it emerges, or diagnosing it early enough for effective treatment.
In one example of how screenings and early detection save lives, a study in the â€œNew England Journal of Medicineâ€ found the death rate from colorectal cancer decreased 53 percent in those screened. In addition to starting treatment for those found to have colon cancer, screenings allowed doctors to detect and remove small pre-cancerous growths called polyps.
To ensure early detection, TRICARE covers a variety of cancer screenings at no cost to beneficiaries, including those for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and others. A co-pay may apply to the office visit itself, depending on the specific TRICARE program in which the patient is enrolled. Your primary care physician can discuss recommended cancer screenings for every age group.
Try our website of the month
In June, TRICARE published â€œChoices: At a Glance,â€ a brochure providing an overview of TRICARE program options. The brochure covers program descriptions, enrollment costs, options available after TRICARE eligibility ends (for those no longer eligible for TRICARE coverage), and the costs of covered services. The brochure also addresses costs of TRICARE pharmacy and dental benefits, and includes contact information and definitions of commonly used terms. It can be downloaded at http://www.tricare.mil/tricaresmart/product.aspx?id=856&CID=84&RID=1.