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TRICARE is a healthcare program designed specifically for U.S. military personnel, retirees, and their dependents, providing comprehensive medical coverage and support. It offers a range of healthcare plans, such as TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select, and TRICARE For Life, that cater to the unique needs of the military community. The program encompasses inpatient and outpatient care, mental health services, prescriptions, dental care, and special programs for service members and families.

Key Takeaways

  1. TRICARE is a comprehensive healthcare program that provides medical and dental coverage to active duty and retired military service members, their families, and survivors.
  2. The program offers a variety of healthcare plans, including TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select, TRICARE For Life, and TRICARE Reserve Select, catering to the unique needs of eligible beneficiaries.
  3. TRICARE benefits depend on the plan chosen and the beneficiary’s military status, but generally cover most medically necessary services and supplies, including hospitalization, prescriptions, preventive care, and mental health services.


TRICARE is a vital aspect of the VA benefits system because it serves as the primary healthcare program for active-duty and retired military personnel, their families, and survivors.

Ensuring comprehensive and affordable medical coverage, TRICARE operates as a crucial support system for the military community by offering various options, such as TRICARE Prime, Select, and TRICARE For Life, to accommodate individual needs.

The program works in collaboration with civilian healthcare providers and military treatment facilities, which helps maintain the well-being of beneficiaries, contributes to military readiness, and demonstrates the nation’s commitment to caring for those who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.


TRICARE serves as a crucial component in the comprehensive healthcare program provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) to current and retired U.S. service members, as well as their eligible family members.

Ensuring the well-being of veterans and military families, its primary purpose is to deliver a combination of accessible, affordable, and high-quality healthcare services. By maintaining the optimal fitness and readiness of the military personnel, TRICARE significantly contributes to the force’s overall preparedness, thereby reinforcing national security.

To cater to the diverse needs of the vast military community, TRICARE offers several benefit plans such as TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select, TRICARE For Life, and TRICARE Reserve Select, among others. These plans encompass a range of healthcare services, including preventive care, hospitalization, prescription medications, mental health services, and dental care.

By offering these crucial services, TRICARE plays an instrumental role in safeguarding the health of the military population, ensuring they receive the best care possible, both during their service and after transitioning into civilian life.

Examples of TRICARE

TRICARE is a healthcare program designed to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage to active-duty and retired military personnel, their dependents, and survivors. Here are three real-world examples of TRICARE:

TRICARE Prime: TRICARE Prime is a managed care option available to active-duty service members, their families, and retirees under the age of

Eligible beneficiaries can enroll in this plan, which offers comprehensive healthcare coverage, including preventive care, inpatient and outpatient services, maternity care, and mental health services. Enrollees have an assigned primary care manager (PCM) who coordinates their healthcare and provides referrals for specialty care when needed.

TRICARE Reserve Select: This is a premium-based healthcare plan available to qualified members of the Selected Reserve. This includes members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserve, as well as the Army and Air National Guard. TRICARE Reserve Select covers a wide range of healthcare services, including doctor visits, hospitalization, preventive care, and prescription medications. To be eligible, reservists must not be eligible for or enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program.

TRICARE For Life: TRICARE For Life (TFL) is a healthcare program available to eligible military retirees and their dependents who are age 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. TFL acts as a secondary payer to Medicare. When receiving healthcare services covered by both Medicare and TFL, Medicare pays its portion of the claim first, and TFL pays the remaining amount, usually resulting in no out-of-pocket costs for the beneficiary. TFL also provides coverage for some services that Medicare does not cover, such as care received at a military treatment facility or care received overseas.



What is TRICARE?

TRICARE is a healthcare program specifically designed to meet the healthcare needs of eligible military service members, retirees, and their families. It offers comprehensive and affordable medical coverage, including access to health care facilities and a wide range of medical services.

Who is eligible for TRICARE?

TRICARE is available to active duty military service members, National Guard/Reserve members, retired service members, and their eligible family members. Dependents of service members, including spouses and children up to age 26, may also receive benefits under TRICARE. Certain former spouses and survivor’s may also be eligible for TRICARE benefits.

What types of TRICARE plans are available?

There are several TRICARE plans available, including TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select, TRICARE For Life, TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve, TRICARE Young Adult, and the US Family Health Plan. Each plan offers unique features and benefits designed to meet the specific needs of its beneficiaries.

How do I enroll in a TRICARE plan?

To enroll in a TRICARE plan, you must first register in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Once registered, you can select and enroll in the TRICARE plan that best suits your needs. You may enroll online, by phone, or by mailing a completed enrollment form to your regional contractor.

What services are covered by TRICARE?

TRICARE covers a wide range of medical services, including inpatient and outpatient care, surgeries, prescriptions, maternity care, mental health care, preventive services, and more. Some services may require a referral or prior authorization, so it’s essential to review your plan’s specific guidelines for more information.

Do I have to pay for TRICARE?

TRICARE beneficiaries may be required to pay annual enrollment fees, co-payments, or deductibles, depending on their plan and coverage type. Out-of-pocket costs vary based on the chosen plan, rank or status, as well as the type and location of services received.


Related VA Benefit Terms

  • TRICARE Prime
  • TRICARE Select
  • TRICARE for Life
  • TRICARE Pharmacy Program
  • TRICARE Dental Program

Sources for More Information