Tricare can be either a blessing or a curse. Despite its quirks and idiosyncrasies, the coverage available to military men and women and their families, is an invaluable benefit for life in the military.
The key to getting the most out of the benefit is to understand who to contact and how to contact them. Especially for people fresh into the military life, new military spouses, or young military couples trying to add their newborn child into DEERS, Tricare can be confusing, frustrating, and exasperating.
Use this post as a quick cheat sheet of Tricare links and numbers you need to know.
Please note that very few things in Tricare can be taken care of by one number because Tricare is broken up by policy type and by region. Make sure to know which region you’re covered by as well as the type of Tricare policy you fall under.
How to book appointments
With Tricare Prime:
Call your primary care manager (PCM) to book an appointment or get an appointment for a receiving a referral.
If you have Prime care but choose to either see a specialist without a referral or go to a different doctor other than your PCM, you’re using the point-of-service option.
Understanding Point of Service Care for appointments
With point of service care, you can visit any TRICARE-authorized provider, get routine or urgent care, and you don’t need a referral.
However, with point of service care just know up front that you will pay substantially more out of pocket fees. You will have to pay point-of-service fees instead of your regular copayment, as well as any other fees charged by non-network providers, and those fees don’t apply to your annual catastrophic cap.
If your PCM is at a military hospital or clinic you can also book some appointments online when you register on the TOL Secure Web Portal.
With Tricare Standard, Tricare Reserve, or Retired:
You don’t need to call any specialized Tricare number to book an appointment. Just call the office you wish to be seen by and ask if they are a TRICARE-authorized provider. Referrals aren’t required, but some services may require prior authorization. You can also get care at military hospitals or clinics on a space-available basis.
Tricare for Life:
Tricare for Life operates with the same appointment guidelines as Tricare Standard, Tricare Reserve, or Retired coverage. However, all care is coordinated through your designated provider, and you won’t get care at military hospitals or clinics or other TRICARE-authorized providers.
Not sure if you need an appointment?
Call the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-TRICARE (Option 1) and speak to a registered nurse day or night. Ask questions, get health care advice or find out if you should get care.
TRICARE Online is a tool unique only for DoD beneficiaries and their families who are receiving care through a military hospital or clinic (Active duty and Tricare prime only).
Tricare Online provides secure online access for you to:
- Make, change, cancel and review appointments for yourself or your authorized family members.
- Opt to receive email and text message appointment reminders
- Refill and check the status of your prescriptions at your military hospital or clinic
- Review, print, or download your personal health data from your military electronic health record (EHR)
- Access your patient centered medical home site to communicate with your health care team
- Access the online health risk assessments
- Get information and services when separating from active duty or reserves
To access these features available through Tricare Online, you need to log in using your CAC, DS Logon Premium (Level 2), or DFAS MyPay account. To learn more about DS Logon or obtain a DS Logon account, visit the DEERS DoD Self-Service Access Center.
Adding a spouse or child to your plan
If you were recently married or have a newborn that needs to be added to Tricare coverage, you need to update your information in DEERS, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS can only be updated in person at your local military ID card office. You can walk in and wait at most ID offices, but you will have far less time twiddling your thumbs if you set up an appointment.
Children are covered by Tricare Prime for 60 days (120 days overseas) after birth or adoption as long as one other family member is enrolled. Please note that Tricare enrollment is neither mandatory nor automatic for family members. This means that after 60 days have passed without enrollment in DEERS your child will not have coverage until and unless you update them in the DEERS system.
Deers is also used for updating your personal information
If you ever have a change in address, phone number, email or family history (divorce, death, birth, etc) you need to update your information in DEERS. If you have already registered in person at a ID office, you will be able to update your information either online or over the phone. These are your DEERS updating options:
- Log into MilConnect
- Call1-800-538-9552 FREE (TTY/TDD: 1-866-363-2883 FREE)
- Fax updates to 1-831-655-8317
- Mail updates to:
- Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office
400 Gigling Road
Seaside, CA 93955-6771
- Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office
Note: Addresses must be a physical address; P.O. boxes can’t be used.
Questions about coverage and cost
How to Contact Tricare
If you feel more comfortable talking to an individual instead of going online, you can always call Tricare customer service.
The U.S. regional contractors provide customer service for all plans except TRICARE For Life and the US Family Health Plan. The overseas contractor provides customer service for all overseas plans. If you aren’t sure which region you’re in, visit the Regions Page of Tricare’s website to learn more.
Here are the contacts for all of the Tricare regions:
North Regional Contractor: Health Net Federal Services, LLC
- 1-877-TRICARE (1-877-874-2273)
South Regional Contractor: Humana Military, a division of Humana Government Business
West Regional Contractor: UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans
- 1-877-988-WEST (1-877-988-9378)
Also please note that email is not an efficient way to get information from Tricare. It can take them up to 30 days to respond to any question you have regarding your care or benefits.
If you have questions about TRICARE eligibility contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office (DSO) at 1-800-538-9552 or go to milConnect.
For most questions or concerns you will most likely be able to find the answer at Tricare’s website. If you have any questions you’re not having luck finding the answer to, feel free to reach out to The Military Wallet, and we will happily help answer any questions we are able to.