There have been a lot of rumors circulating around the military community regarding the status of TRICARE, including one that suggested that the military healthcare system on which millions depend was going away completely.

Fortunately, the legislative affairs pros at MOAA have been on the case. As they did with the military retirement system a few years back, they’ve been working with Congress to help military families “dodge a bullet” and avoid the vast majority of TRICARE fee hikes for current beneficiaries. Specifically, thanks to MOAA’s efforts there won’t be an annual TRICARE For Life enrollment fee of up to 2 percent of retired pay; an increase in annual fees by 50 to 100 percent for TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard over several years; or double pharmacy copayments over the next 10 years.

At least not in 2017.

As reported by Dan Merry, MOAA’s VP of Government Relations, some lesser changes are coming over the next few years that will affect retired military and survivor beneficiaries who get their health care under TRICARE Standard. Those changes include the following:

  • As of Jan. 1, 2018, TRICARE Standard will be renamed TRICARE Select.
  • Also starting in 2018, you will need to go through a formal enrollment process (signing an enrollment form) to participate in TRICARE Select. Currently, you have to enroll to get care under TRICARE Prime, but your ID card is all you need under TRICARE Standard. That will change in fall 2017 when Standard users will get a notice about needing to enroll in TRICARE Select if they want coverage in 2018.
  • MOAA successfully lobbied for a grace period for that first year of enrollment, recognizing there always will be people who don’t get the word about big changes like this. During that first year, if you haven’t enrolled and have to go to a doctor or hospital, you will be charged the out-of-network fee for that first incident of care but then must enroll in TRICARE Select to get further care.
  • For 2018 and 2019, there won’t be any enrollment fee for TRICARE Select.
  • But beginning Jan. 1, 2020, there will be an annual TRICARE Select enrollment fee of $150 (individual) or $300 (family). Currently serving families, Chapter 61 (medical) retirees, and military survivors whose sponsors died on active duty will be exempt from paying the fee. For subsequent years after 2020, the enrollment fee will be increased by the same annual percentage as the annual retired pay COLA.
  • At the same time, the TRICARE Select enrollment fee is established in 2020, the annual catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket expenses for retired families will be raised to $3,500 (versus the current $3,000). In subsequent years, the cap will be increased by the same percentage as the annual retired-pay COLA. The cap will remain at $1,000 a year for currently serving families.

See the entire MOAA report here.