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VFW: Most vets don't know about upcoming Tricare changes

December 04, 2017 - 11:44 am
(Photo by Marcy Sanchez, William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office)

By Eric Dehm

Over 6.5 million people including active-duty military, family members and retirees use Tricare for insurance. That being the case you might think that most, if not all, of those 6.5 million would know about the significant changes coming to Tricare in 2018.

About that...

According to a new survey from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, less than half of Tricare enrolled vets know what's coming their way.

"It's pretty much across the board," said VFW Director of National Security & Foreign Affairs Sarah Maples during an appearance on The Morning Briefing. "We have addressed this with the DoD and Defense Health Agency and provided our feedback and our results of our survey that while they are attempting to communicate with Tricare beneficiaries, the message is not being received. So we are concerned that a majority of the beneficiaries don't realize the drastic changes that are coming after January 1st."

The survey, conducted between Oct. 26 and Nov. 8, shows that 52% were totally unaware of the changes. And even fewer were aware of the specifics of those changes.

One major change will see Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra going away, something only 22% of the survey takers were aware of. Those two programs will be replaced by a new program called Tricare Select.  Unlike Standard and Extra, this new program will require an initial enrollment for new users to receive benefits. Of course, those who aren't aware of the change won't know about the enrollment requirement and thus won't enroll.

And that's not the only red flag the survey raised.

Take, for example, only 12% of respondents knowing that co-payments for retirees who use Tricare Prime will be increasing.

With less than a month left until many of the Tricare changes go into effect, the VFW is doing everything they can to increase awareness. They are imploring everyone enrolled in Tricare to visit the Tricare changes website as soon as possible to learn what they can, and then to contact Tricare, or the VFW, directly with any questions or concerns they have.

The VFW is quick to note that the survey isn't about pointing fingers but about doing everything possible to get the word out.

"It's not that we don't think they're [DoD and Defense Health Agency] attempting to get the info out," Maples said. "It's just not being effective and these are significant changes that we want to make sure beneficiaries are aware of."

To hear the full conversation with Sarah Maples on the VFW Tricare survey, you can stream below, or download for listening at any time by clicking the share button and selecting "download" from the menu options.

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