What To Do With TRICARE When You ETS

Not all veterans receive a disability rating when they separate from the service.  While it is technically possible to receive health care from a VA Health Care Center, the likelihood is somewhat small.  For these veterans, their first option may be to extend TRICARE coverage via several options for a certain period of time after active service ends.

What is the process to not loosing coverage immediately upon service separation?  Even without being granted a disability award, many veterans are experiencing medical needs on a consistent or predictable basis.  These concerns may also include family members who were covered by TRICARE.

First, many veterans and their families relocate after separating service.  so remembering to change your primary care manager (PCM) that is on file is essential.  If at all possible, plan ahead and change while you’re in the process of moving to prevent any delays in receiving care upon your arrival.  Take the following steps to change your PCM:

First, update your information in DEERS.

Next, find a new PCM that is partnered with TRICARE in the area you are moving to.  You can enter search criteria such as a Military Treatment Facility or other Network Provider, physician specialty, PCM gender preference, and distance preferences on TRICARE’s Find a Doctor page.

Next, print and fill out a TRICARE Prime Enrollment Application and PCM Change Form.  Don’t be too overwhelmed by this form, you only need to fill out the parts that are relevant to changing your PCM, because you are already enrolled in TRICARE, you can disregard any of the enrollment application fields.  Visit this page to find the TRICARE phone number for your current region and ask for the correct address to mail your form to.

After making sure that you can receive care coverage in your new location, (when you separate from the military you have a certain amount of time that you remain “active duty eligible.”  Get the details of this information in your ETS processing so you know for sure.) it is time to consider if any of the transitional TRICARE plans are appropriate for you or your family.

Transitional Assistance Management Program

The following are eligibility criteria for TAMP, if the service member is:

  • Involuntarily separating from active duty under honorable conditions
  • A National Guard or Reserve member separating from a period of active duty that was more than 30 consecutive days in support of a contingency operation
  • Separating from active duty following involuntary retention (stop-loss) in support of a contingency operation
  • Separating from active duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation
  • Receiving a sole survivorship discharge
  • Separating from active duty and agree to become a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve of a Reserve Component.

TAMP is a 180 day coverage which begins on the service member’s date of separation.  The service member and his or her family is able to choose from TRICARE Prime, Standard and Extra, Prime Overseas, and Standard Overseas.  For TRICARE Prime and Prime Overseas, a new enrollment form needs to be filled out and submitted, even if already enrolled as an active duty service member.  During the period of coverage, the system works just like it did while on active duty.


Continued Health Care Benefit Program

Eligibility for CHCBP is quite simple:

  • The Service Member (who can also enroll his or her family members)
  • Certain unremarried former spouses
  • Children who lose military coverage due to age

Thats it!

CHCBP is very similar to TRICARE Standard, and requires the payment of premiums.  Coverage lasts from 18 to 36 months after the loss of either active duty TRICARE coverage or TAMP benefits.


Photo thanks to heraldpost under creative common license on Flickr.





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