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TRICARE for Life


TRICARE for Life (TFL) is a healthcare benefits program available to eligible military retirees and their dependents, serving as a supplement to Medicare. It functions as a secondary payer to Medicare, covering healthcare costs not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. TFL provides beneficiaries access to military hospitals and clinics, as well as a wide network of civilian healthcare providers.

Key Takeaways

  1. TRICARE for Life (TFL) is a healthcare program designed to provide medical benefits to retired military service members, their families, and Medicare-eligible beneficiaries who have enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.
  2. TFL serves as a secondary insurance, supplementing Medicare coverage by paying for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, co-payments, and remaining balances not covered by Medicare. However, it does not cover services that Medicare does not cover.
  3. There are no enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life, but beneficiaries must continue paying their Medicare Part B premiums to maintain their TFL coverage. The program provides worldwide healthcare coverage, including at military treatment facilities and through a network of civilian providers accepting Medicare and TRICARE.


TRICARE for Life is an important VA benefits term because it refers to a critical healthcare program designed specifically for eligible military retirees and their families, as well as other qualified beneficiaries.

This program acts as a secondary insurance coverage to Medicare, ensuring comprehensive healthcare protection for those who have dedicated their lives to serving the nation.

TRICARE for Life helps to fill gaps in Medicare coverage, reducing out-of-pocket medical expenses for retired service members and enhancing their access to quality healthcare services.

Additionally, this vital program demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of veterans and their families, recognizing the sacrifices they have made in the service of their country.


TRICARE for Life (TFL) is a unique healthcare program designed to serve the purpose of complementing and enhancing the healthcare benefits available to eligible military veterans, their families, and survivors. Its primary function is to act as a secondary payer to Medicare, which often serves as the primary insurance for retired individuals.

What makes TFL notable is its attention to the needs of the military community, ensuring that they are provided with comprehensive medical coverage and access to critical health services throughout their retirement years, thereby improving their overall quality of life. The importance of TRICARE for Life lies in how it assists in filling the gaps that arise from the standard Medicare program.

TRICARE for Life coverage ensures that beneficiaries experience minimal out-of-pocket expenses while maintaining access to a broad range of necessary healthcare services, including hospitalization, preventative care, prescription drugs, and mental health support. By coordinating benefits with Medicare, TFL effectively supports the financial and medical needs of military retirees, their families, and survivors, making it an invaluable resource for those who have dedicated their lives to serving their country.

Examples of TRICARE for Life

TRICARE for Life (TFL) is a healthcare program designed for eligible military retirees and their dependents, those who are also eligible for Medicare. TFL acts as a secondary insurance provider, covering expenses that Medicare does not. Here are three real-world examples of how TRICARE for Life may be utilized:

Medical treatment for a chronic condition: A military retiree is diagnosed with diabetes and requires consistent medical treatment, including insulin and regular check-ups. Medicare would cover a portion of the expenses for these treatments, and TRICARE for Life might step in to cover any remaining costs such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.

Hospital stays and surgeries: A military retiree’s spouse suffers a stroke and requires hospitalization, surgery, and subsequent rehabilitation. Medicare would pay for some of the costs associated with these services, and TRICARE for Life could be utilized to help offset any remaining medical expenses not covered by Medicare.

Prescription medication coverage: A military retiree lives with a chronic condition that requires regular, costly prescription medications to manage their symptoms. The retiree has Medicare Part D for prescription drug coverage; however, it may not cover the entire cost of their medicine. TRICARE for Life could provide additional support by covering the remaining costs, making the required medications more affordable for the individual.It’s essential to note that TRICARE for Life beneficiaries must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (medical coverage) to receive the complete benefits of the TFL program.


What is TRICARE for Life?

TRICARE for Life (TFL) is a healthcare coverage program designed for Medicare-eligible military retirees and their families. It serves as a supplement to Medicare, covering expenses and services that might not be covered by Medicare Parts A and B.

Who is eligible for TRICARE for Life?

TRICARE for Life is available to Medicare-eligible uniformed service retirees, including retired guard and reserve members, their eligible family members, and certain survivors. Beneficiaries must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B to receive TFL benefits.

How do I enroll in TRICARE for Life?

There is no separate enrollment process for TRICARE for Life. Once you are enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, you will automatically become eligible for TFL benefits. Ensure that your information is updated in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to avoid any issues with coverage.

What is the cost for TRICARE for Life?

There are no enrollment fees for TRICARE for Life, but you are required to pay Medicare Part B premiums. You might also be responsible for certain copayments, deductibles, and cost-shares depending on the services received and where you receive them.

What services are covered by TRICARE for Life?

TRICARE for Life covers healthcare services that are approved and deemed medically necessary by Medicare. This includes hospital stays, doctor appointments, and some prescription medications. In addition, TFL provides coverage for certain services that Medicare might not cover, such as care received overseas and certain preventive services.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Medicare Part A and B
  • Military Treatment Facilities
  • Healthcare coverage for retirees
  • Pharmacy benefits
  • Supplemental healthcare insurance

Sources for More Information