Military families whose children are enrolled in Tricare Young Adult will see their monthly costs increase next year by up to 22 percent, according to a military family advocate.

Current monthly enrollment fees of $376 for Tricare Young Adult Prime will increase by 22 percent, said Eileen Huck, deputy director for health care for the National Military Family Association. She said a senior defense health official informed military service organizations of the increases, which are set to go into effect in January. Families are currently paying more than $4,500 a year in enrollment fees for that coverage, and the increase would add nearly $1,000 more a year.

Current monthly enrollment fees of $228 for Tricare Young Adult Select will increase by 12 percent, she said.

More than 37,000 unmarried, adult children of military sponsors were enrolled in either the Tricare Young Adult Prime or Select programs, according to the Defense Department. As of a year ago, 10,509 adult children were enrolled in TYA Prime, and 26,830 were enrolled in Select.

Those eligible are at least 21 years old, but not yet 26. Regular Tricare coverage through the military sponsor ends at age 21, or age 23 if enrolled in college. The young adult must not be eligible to enroll in an employer-sponsored health care plan based on his or her own employment.

Confirmation of the fee increase was not immediately available from the Defense Health Agency; a 2021 Tricare fee schedule has not yet been released. However, according to Military Times calculations, the fees would increase for TYA Prime to about $459 a month; and for TYA Select to about $255 a month.

“A lot of families will find it financially impossible to keep their kids in Tricare Young Adult,” Huck said. “Will that mean that some of these young adults will go without health care coverage? I think that’s a concern, at a time when a lot of families are struggling financially because of the economic downturn and the pandemic. …. It seems like an awfully big financial burden to be placing on these families.”

The majority of those in Tricare Young Adult are children of retirees, she said, and retirees in Tricare Select are already being asked to pay enrollment fees for the first time next year.

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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