If you’re a working-age military retiree or a family member who last year was enrolled in Tricare Select and your coverage has been dropped, you have just a few days to reinstate it.

If you contact your regional contractor and set up a payment process by June 30, to include back enrollment fees, your Tricare Select coverage will be reinstated. Your Tricare Select claims that have been denied this year will also be paid retroactively to Jan. 1.

By law, in order to continue coverage under Tricare Select, retiree sponsors were required to start paying new monthly enrollment fees as of Jan. 1, 2021, and they were required to set up a payment plan by the end of 2020, through allotment, bank account or credit card. Those who failed to do so were dropped from enrollment, with their coverage ending Dec. 31.

Defense Health Agency officials later extended the deadline to June 30. Retiree sponsors can still contact their Tricare contractor to reinstate their coverage if they move quickly.

Payments are $12.50 per month for individuals; or $25 per month for families. If they didn’t set up their payment, their coverage ended Dec. 31.

These are so-called “Group A” retirees and dependents — working-age retirees under age 65 who entered the military before Jan. 1, 2018, as well as their family members and survivors. Previously, these 876,531 beneficiaries didn’t have to pay enrollment fees for Tricare Select, but a 2017 law required the Defense Department to start charging the fees by Jan. 1, 2021.

After June 30, the claims won’t be paid retroactively, and the next time you’ll be able to enroll in Tricare Select will be during the Tricare open enrollment period that begins Nov. 8 and ends Dec. 13. That coverage would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

However, “I would encourage anyone who learns they’ve lost coverage even after June 30 to contact their contractor to see what their options are, so that the Defense Health Agency has visibility at that point,” said Karen Ruedisueli, director of health affairs for the Military Officers Association of America. “Otherwise, nobody would know they’re out there, if they don’t seek reinstatement.”

She said MOAA will continue to monitor the situation, “and we will circle back to DHA to see what can be done for those folks.”

This doesn’t affect retirees who are in Tricare for Life, Tricare Prime, or those using a premium-based plan. Nor does it affect active-duty families on Tricare Select, survivors of deceased active-duty members, or medically retired retirees and family members.

Anyone who is dropped from Tricare Select will have access to direct medical care only at a military treatment facility, and only if space is available. Tricare Select claims for medical treatment after Dec. 31, 2020, have been denied for those who didn’t set up payment plans.

Tricare contractors have been contacting these beneficiaries about their lapsed coverage and newly required payment. Defense Health Agency officials are asking beneficiaries to let their Tricare contractor know if they have chosen not to continue their Tricare Select coverage, and are purposefully declining coverage.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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