Q. My husband and I recently decided that we want to move to Ireland. He’s a medically retired soldier using Tricare for Life. My son and I have Tricare Prime. Are there U.S. military bases in Ireland? If not, how well will Tricare cover our family if we decide to live there permanently?
A. There are no U.S. military installations in Ireland; the nearest American bases with medical facilities are in England. So you would be using host-nation health care providers almost exclusively, unless you flew to the U.S. for some form of specialty care.
The Tricare Overseas Program has wrinkles that do not apply to stateside Tricare — and even more so for retirees using Tricare for Life and their families.
First, if you move to Ireland permanently, your husband must remain enrolled in Medicare Part B to remain eligible for Tricare for Life — even though he would not be able to use the Medicare portion of TFL because Medicare generally does not operate outside the U.S. and its territories. As such, while Tricare for Life claims are filed with Medicare first, Tricare is the primary payer for beneficiaries living outside the U.S. and its territories where Medicare does not operate, unless beneficiaries have other health insurance.
You’ll be responsible for the applicable Tricare Standard deductible, cost-shares and remaining billed charges. In overseas areas, health care providers who are not “Tricare network participating providers” essentially have no limit on the fees they may charge, and you’ll be responsible for amounts that exceed the Tricare-allowable charges for specific services.
Also, for retired troops and their families, the Tricare Overseas Program does not offer Prime, so you and your son would have to use Standard. Under that option, you would be eligible for emergency or specialty health care at a U.S. military medical facility in England or elsewhere in Europe on a space-available basis only.
Another important point: Host-nation health care providers may file claims directly with Tricare, but it’s quite possible that host-nation providers will expect you to pay at the time of service, in which case you would have to file claims yourself with Tricare for reimbursement.
Your best information source is www.tricare-overseas.com. Click the “Beneficiaries” link, and on the left you’ll see a column of links titled “Tricare Overseas Program.” The first one, “Find a Provider,” has a country-by-country listing of participating network providers, so you can get a feel for what’s available in Ireland. Under that is a link to country-specific contact information. Scroll down to the bottom of the “Beneficiaries” page for links to the highly detailed Tricare Overseas Program Handbook and other information.
If you go forward with your move, you need to do a lot of homework, to include talking to the Tricare overseas contractor. Contact the International SOS regional call center for the Eurasia-Africa region toll free at 877-678-1207.