Q. I am the girlfriend of a soldier, and I am 10 weeks pregnant. We have every intention of getting married, but I want to know if there is a time limit in which we need to wed in order for our unborn child, and me, to receive military benefits.
A. You will become eligible for Tricare, including maternity care, on the day you marry the baby's father. You cannot use Tricare until you are legally married and your husband has contacted his unit personnel section to register you for the program. That takes a few days.
If the baby is born before you are married, the child's Tricare coverage will begin at birth. There are some administrative requirements to be met before that. You can get detailed official information about the Tricare eligibility of a child born out of wedlock by calling the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System at 800-538-9552. Be prepared to take notes.
Q. I have a sister-in-law who is 18 and is about to move to our duty station to live with us to attend college. Can my husband, who is active-duty military, claim her as a dependent if she is a full-time student?
A. A dependent sister-in-law cannot become eligible for Tricare. You can confirm that fact by calling DEERS at 800-538-9552.
Q. Despite the open season for Medicare being closed, I keep seeing ads for Medicare supplements, Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage and the like. Those ads make me wonder whether I need any support for my Medicare coverage as the ads suggest. Do I need the bells and whistles the ads keep pushing, or is Tricare for Life really all I need?
A. Keep in mind that the ads on TV are designed to sell insurance coverage — more importantly, to sell coverage to the target audience, most of whom are civilians.
While civilians may need additional plans such as Medicare supplements or Medicare Advantage to have, as some say, "complete coverage," that's not a problem for Tricare for Life beneficiaries.
The original Medicare program used by most Americans doesn't provide full coverage, such as paying your Medicare deductible, co-payments or the cost of prescription drugs. Those things are provided free as the Tricare Standard portion of your Tricare for Life coverage.
Regarding pharmacy costs, Tricare beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in the free Medicare Pharmacy Program.
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