Don’t Get Locked In: TRICARE’s First Ever Open Enrollment Period Begins November 12

By: Karen Ruedisueli, Government Relations Deputy Director

We are just days away from TRICARE’s first ever Annual Open Enrollment Period. Open enrollment for 2019 will run from November 12 – December 10, 2018.

During this period, families have two choices: do nothing and remain enrolled in their current TRICARE plan -or- contact TRICARE to change plans. You have three ways to make an enrollment change:

Once the open enrollment period ends, you will be locked in to the plan you chose for the entire 2019 calendar year unless you experience a Qualifying Life Event (QLE.) Certain events such as a geographic move or the birth/adoption of a child will allow you to change your TRICARE plan. Please note, pregnancy is not a Qualifying Life Event. You are eligible to change plans only after your baby is born.

Locked in to TRICARE Prime…locked in to your Military Treatment Facility (MTF)?
The old policy of allowing families to switch from Prime to Select at any time provided TRICARE Prime families enrolled at MTFs with a critical escape hatch. We are concerned that the current Open Enrollment/QLE policy may trap some military families in military hospitals and clinics that don’t meet their needs.

We understand the Annual Open Enrollment/Qualifying Life Events policy is commonplace with commercial plans and appreciate the goal of aligning TRICARE with commercial practices. However, we believe the new policy doesn’t account for the unique aspects of the military health system and creates a situation that does not exist with commercial health care plans – we are not aware of a single commercial health plan that locks members into one medical facility.

So what is NMFA doing about this?
TRICARE’s policy must be adapted to address the unique nature of the military health system and it’s use of military hospitals and clinics. We continue to advocate for QLEs that would allow beneficiaries to switch from TRICARE Prime to Select under the following circumstances:

  • Dissatisfaction with MTF access or quality of care
  • Pregnancy
  • Change in spouse employment status

Posted 11-9-18


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