Continued Health Care Benefit Program – Health Care for Transitioning Veterans

The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) offers medical care coverage to military members and families when the leave the service.
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Losing your military health care benefits is one of the most overlooked aspects of leaving the military. Love it or hate it, Tricare provides military members and their families with a stable health care plan. If you have just left, or are leaving the military healthcare system soon, then the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) may prove to be a lifesaver.

The Continued Health Care Benefit Program is available to everyone leaving Tricare (the military health care system), including military members and their dependents, unmarried former spouses, and children.

That means the CHCBP may be a good option for service members and their families who are separating from the military, spouses going through a divorce, children who are moving out of the house or lose age eligibility for Tricare, and other situations. Let’s look at this program, including what it covers, who is eligible, and how to apply for benefits.

Table of Contents
  1. CHCBP – Military Version of COBRA Health Coverage
  2. What is CHCBP? 
  3. Qualifying for Continued Health Care Benefit Program Benefits
    1. Continued Health Care Benefit Program Eligibility
    2. You Must Decide Quickly – or You Lose Eligibility
  4. Continued Health Care Benefit Program Cost and Management
  5. Is the Continued Health Care Benefit Program a Good Deal?

CHCBP – Military Version of COBRA Health Coverage

In the civilian world, companies that offer group health care coverage to their employees are also required to offer them COBRA health insurance coverage, which makes employer-sponsored health care benefits available to former employees for up to 18-36 months after they leave their job.

The primary difference is that employers often subsidize benefits while employees work for the company, but they are not required to do so under COBRA. Basically, the former employee still has access to the same benefits but may be required to pay 100% of the program’s cost.

While the CHCBP is similar to COBRA, it isn’t a true COBRA benefits program since the health care provider under CHCBP isn’t Tricare.

But the program is similar to COBRA since the benefits under CHCBP are very similar to those under Tricare Select, and the members must pay premiums to participate in the program. However, the cost may be less than many commercial-sector COBRA benefits programs.

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What is CHCBP? 

The Continued Health Care Benefit Program is an optional health care program that, like COBRA, is designed to be a transitional medical care program. It is designed to provide insurance in between military health care coverage and a civilian health care program. Though the CHCBP is not Tricare, it does follow most of the same rules and benefits as Tricare Select. 

Continuous health care coverage and preexisting coverage. The benefit of using the CHCBP is that you will have continuous health care coverage, which can be important in qualifying for a new health care plan, especially if you are buying an individual health care plan or if you have preexisting medical conditions, though this is less of an issue since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

Qualifying for Continued Health Care Benefit Program Benefits

The main eligibility requirement is that the member comes out of Tricare coverage or the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP)

Continued Health Care Benefit Program Eligibility

Former CategoryScenarioLength of Coverage
Active-duty service memberReleased from active dutyUp to 18 months
Full-time National Guard memberSeparated from full-time statusUp to 18 months
Member covered by the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP)Loss of TAMP coverageUp to 18 months
Selected Reserve member covered by TRSLoss of TRS coverageUp to 18 months
Retired Reserve member covered by TRRLoss of TRR coverage (before age 60)Up to 18 months
Dependent spouse or childLoss of Tricare coverageUp to 36 months
Unremarried former spouseLoss of Tricare coverageUp to 36 months*

*Unremarried former spouses may qualify for additional coverage. Please check with Humana Military for details.

Eligibility is limited to:

  • 18 months for separating service members and their families if service member elects family coverage.
  • 36 months for a family member who ceases to meet the requirements for being considered an unmarried dependent child or spouse. (In some cases, unremarried former spouses may continue coverage beyond 36 months if they meet certain criteria. )

Eligibility beyond 36 months for certain former spouses. Former spouses who meet the following criteria may be eligible for more than 36 months of CHCBP benefits (see the US Code for more specific info):

  • Did not remarry before age 55.
  • Was enrolled in an approved health benefits plan as a family member at any time during the 18-month period before the date of the divorce, dissolution, or annulment.
  • Is receiving any portion of the retired or retainer pay of the member or former member service member, or has a court order or written agreement that provides a share of the retirement benefits.

You Must Decide Quickly – or You Lose Eligibility

Eligible members only have 60 days to purchase Continued Health Care Benefit Program benefits (30 days for Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) members with remaining eligibility). The clock starts running when the member separates from active duty or loses military health care benefits.


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Continued Health Care Benefit Program Cost and Management

Humana Military Healthcare Services Inc runs the Continued Health Care Benefit Program. The cost of the CHCBP premiums is based on the fiscal year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30). Here are the premiums for fiscal year 2022

Premiums for individual coverage: $1,654 per quarter

  • Individual coverage is available to the sponsor, a former spouse who has not remarried or an adult child.

Premiums for family coverage: $4,079 per quarter

  • Family coverage is only available to former service members and their dependents. For family coverage, dependents cannot enroll unless the sponsor enrolls.

On the surface, these premiums may appear expensive, especially compared to the no-cost Tricare Prime you are most likely used to. However, these premiums are often comparable to unsubsidized group healthcare plans.

Here is more information on enrollment, including eligibility requirements for activated Guard and Reserve members. You will also need to contact Humana Military to start the program. You can use the previous link or contact Humana Military using the information listed below:

Enrollment Form: Continued Health Care Benefit Program Enrollment Application (DD Form 2837)

Humana Military

Attn: CHCBP

P.O. Box 740072

Louisville, KY 40201-7472

1-800-444-5445

Is the Continued Health Care Benefit Program a Good Deal?

Health care in the U.S. is a complicated business, and finding the best plan can be a chore – especially if you are not immediately employed when you separate from the military. My recommendation is to start looking at your healthcare options well in advance of losing your Tricare benefits.

It is always a good idea to look into health care through your employer, and if you do not have a job lined up, you should investigate the cost of an individual health care plan. Here is more information on comparing individual and group health insurance to understand better which options are best for you. You can also compare health insurance plans with a variety of vendors. 

If you are in good health and do not have any preexisting medical conditions, you may be able to find a cheaper individual healthcare plan on your own. Depending on your employment prospects and health, you may find that the CHCBP is the most affordable option.

Certain veterans are eligible for VA health care benefits. However, it may take time to establish eligibility and enroll in the VA health care system. Additionally, VA health care coverage is generally only available to veterans, not family members. It is recommended to have a health care plan in place before leaving the military health care system to avoid any breaks in service.

This article covers additional healthcare options after leaving military service.


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  1. Paul Phillips says

    My dependent daughter just transitioned from Tricare Young Adult Program to the Continued Health Care Benefit Program upon her 26th birthday.

    I need to find an insurance carrier offering CHCBP supplemental insurance.
    For the Tricare Young Adult Program, we had Mediplus through the MOAA. Unforunately, they do not offer any plan for CHCBP.

    Please let me know if you know of any CHCBP supplemental plans.

    ThanX

  2. Elizabeth M. says

    Hello and thank you for the article! My husband just finished 8 years in the Navy and left with an honorable discharge. He has a job lined up with full benefits and will start on July 3rd. Is it possible to purchase the CHCBP plan for now until his new job starts? We definitely don’t want to be without health care in this interim but shouldn’t be needing coverage for six months. What would you suggest? Thanks!

  3. Cassidi says

    My husband separated from the Army and we have been on CHCBP since. Our eligibility is ending in April but I just found out that I am pregnant. Can I extend my coverage until the baby is born even though we have already used the 18 months that was offered to us or do we need to look into other insurance options?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Cassidi, Thank you for contacting me, and congratulations on your coming baby! I am not aware of any provision that would allow you to extend this benefit. I recommend contacting your health care representative for more information. Here are some additional tips for health care after military service.

      I hope this is helpful, and I wish you and your family the best!

  4. pyae phyo kyaw says

    I am separation for army 2017 January . Currently my wife have pregnant at Oct 2016 . after I get out military she will be 18 weeks pregnant. Can we eligible Continued Health Care Benefit Program?

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