Q. When I am 65, my Tricare and Medicare coverage will get mixed together. I don't know how to file those claims or where to go for help.
A. Since Oct. 1, 2001, federal law has made the Tricare for Life process almost foolproof for millions of retirees and their spouses.
Unless Medicare contacts you first, you must call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B at least 90 days before you turn 65.
When enrolled, you'll get an official Medicare ID card to prove that your coverage for Medicare Parts A and B is effective on the first day of the month when you turn 65. Retirees are required by law to be enrolled in both Part A and Part B to get Tricare for Life.
Medicare and the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System share eligibility information. DEERS will update your record to show that you are eligible for Tricare for Life. If something goes wrong with those procedures, call DEERS at 800-538-9552.
The following information applies only to people whose sole health insurance is Medicare and Tricare. Those who have other health insurance should call Tricare for assistance.
For the rest of your life, you must get your health care from Medicare providers. When you call to set up an initial appointment with a doctor, or when you are to be admitted to a hospital, you must tell every provider that you are a Medicare beneficiary.
Don't tell them you are insured by Tricare for Life. You will get a blank stare. To complete insurance forms, tell the provider that Medicare is your primary health insurance and Tricare Standard is your secondary coverage.
Your Tricare for Life benefits start when the provider files a valid Medicare claim. Never use a provider who will not file Medicare claims because Medicare cannot pay his bills.
Medicare will process the claim, send its payment to the provider, and forward the claim to Tricare as second payer. On the vast majority of claims, Tricare will pay the provider what Medicare did not, and the claim and the provider's bill will be paid in full.
Q. I'm concerned about identity theft due to Tricare's using my Social Security number on all my insurance forms. Does Tricare have any plans to remedy that?
A. I talked with the Pentagon's Office of Health Affairs and was told that although full Social Security numbers are no longer included in new and reissued military ID cards, there are no plans to change the way they are used on Tricare forms.
Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Tricare">email@example.com. In e-mail, include "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files.