Q. My father-in-law recently passed away at age 94. His daughter has been told that for his 92-year-old invalid widow to keep Tricare coverage for herself, she must go to an Army base to have a new photo taken for a replacement ID card. True?
A. Yes, a valid military ID card is required to use Tricare. If your mother-in-law does not have a current, valid military ID, you and your wife must arrange to help her get one for her to access her Tricare benefits. This can be done through the ID card issuing office of any military installation. That office will tell you what documentation your mother-in-law needs to bring to verify her status as a retiree family member for military health care purposes.
In addition, to use Tricare, your mother-in-law must be properly registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS must be informed of any change in family status of military beneficiaries; your mother-in-law has had such a change with the death of her military retiree sponsor. For more information, call the DEERS support office toll free at 800-538-9552.
Any military retirees or their dependents over age 65 use the Tricare program called Tricare for Life, which requires enrollment in Medicare Parts A and B. Claims for medical services are submitted first to Medicare, and then Tricare pays whatever Medicare does not. On the vast majority of claims, this combination will cover 100 percent of the bill. Tricare for Life also has a fairly low-cost pharmacy program for prescription drugs.
Many older retirees handle all the family business for both themselves and their spouses. When the retiree passes away, he leaves his spouse in the dark about how to continue accessing her military benefits in his absence, particularly critical health care benefits. I hear of situations like this fairly often. From the information you have provided, this may have been the case with your in-laws.
Q. I am an Air Force retiree. After being divorced for 19 years, I will be remarried in August. My fiancee has had her tubes tied, but we would like to try to have a baby together. After we get married, will Tricare pay for her to have her tubes untied? And will it pay for her to become a mom?
A. I have bad news and good news. Tricare covers voluntary sterilization procedures — vasectomy for men and tubal ligation for women — but it does not cover reversal of these procedures. However, assuming that your bride-to-be has other insurance and can get her tubal ligation reversed on her own, she will be fully covered by Tricare for maternal care, and any children you may have together will be fully covered for their health care needs, as well.
Write to Tricare Help, Times News Service, 6883 Commercial Drive, Springfield, VA 22159; or firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=RE:%20Tricare">email@example.com. In email, include the word "Tricare" in the subject line and do not attach files. Get Tricare advice anytime at http://www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp">www.militarytimes.com/tricarehelp.