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Tricare Help: Will TFL make me switch doctors?

Apr. 5, 2012 - 01:47PM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 5, 2012 - 01:47PM  |  
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Q. I will be 65 and get Medicare in August. However, I have finally found a doctor I like at my military hospital. He explains things to me and never rushes. How can I keep seeing him after I get Tricare for Life?

A. I'm afraid I don't have good news for you: You currently have priority access to the military hospital, and your doctor, under Tricare Prime. But when you turn 65 and get Medicare and Tricare for Life, the Tricare Prime part of your coverage will automatically convert to Tricare Standard.

That, along with Medicare Parts A and B, will make up your health coverage. Medicare will become your primary payer, with Tricare paying whatever Medicare does not. You will have to find a new, Medicare-authorized doctor ó hopefully one who communicates as well as your current physician.

Q. My 82-year-old mother is a recent legal immigrant to the U.S. She lives with us and is our dependent. How can I get her signed up for Tricare?

A. Dependent parents and parents-in-law are not eligible for Tricare. Under certain circumstances, however, the uniformed services may determine a parent or in-law to be the dependent of an active-duty member or retiree. In those circumstances, the parent or in-law may be allowed to use a military treatment facility, subject to the availability of space, personnel and technical capacity.

You must apply with your service for your mother to be legally designated as your dependent. Then you may apply with your MTF for her to be allowed to use its facilities.

Ask whether she can be eligible for Tricare Plus, which will give her the same access rights to free MTF care as are enjoyed by Tricare Prime members. She will not have Tricare Prime health care coverage, but her medical will be just as good.

Q. I have Tricare for Life, but my wife is younger than me. She needs new glasses. How much will Tricare pay for her glasses if she is too young for Medicare?

A. It isn't necessary for your wife to be eligible for Medicare to use the very limited Tricare coverage for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Tricare would help pay for one pair of glasses or lenses if she had an intraocular lens replacement.

Apart from that, however, Tricare may not pay for spectacles or contact lenses except in the case of certain specific, and uncommon, eye conditions. Ordinary refractive (focusing) errors, such as near- or farsightedness, are not among those conditions.

Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or tricarehelp@militarytimes.com">tricarehelp@militarytimes.com. In email, include the word "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice any time at www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp.

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