By: Dana Bretz, MSAN New Military Spouse Contributor
Nothing gives me a warm fuzzy feeling like talking about health insurance. So I guess it’s best to just jump right on in, head first. Though since we are on the topic of insurance, we shall be very cautious before diving in. Injury free is the way to be, that’s my motto! Here we go!
There are many things on your new spouse to-do list and enrolling in TRICARE is at the top. Eligible beneficiaries must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Think of DEERS as the information headquarters, the mother lode of data, if you will. If your info isn’t in there, you don’t exist. Okay, maybe not that drastic, but you get my drift. If your sponsor (active duty, guard or reserve member) has not yet registered you, the to-do list just got longer. Now that that’s clear, we can talk about how to get started!
There are 3 ways you can start your TRICARE journey. You can enroll online at www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/bwe, over the phone by calling your regional contractor or by mail…if somehow you have found yourself in a world without phones or Internet. Now some of you may be asking, “what is a regional contractor”? Excellent question, so glad you asked. TRICARE has 3 regions in the continental United States (CONUS). There are also 3 additional regions outside of the U.S. You can find out which region you are in by visiting http://www.tricare.mil/About/Regions.aspx?sc_database=web. You will find contact information for each regional contractor, as well. For example, we live in the TRICARE South region, so our contractor is Humana Military.
Once you are enrolled, trying to figure out the ins and outs of your health insurance can be confusing, frustrating and stressful. And when you add all of that on top of everything else a new spouse is experiencing, it can be an overload of emotions. I’ve been there. I still go there! TRICARE, like any other insurance, is always changing. Also, things are different region to region. So when we think we have it figured out, we move! If patience isn’t your strong suit, you will have many opportunities to work on that skill. You might also hear some horror stories related to this topic. We have all had our own experiences, as in life, not all are filled with rainbows and lollipops. It is important that you take full advantage of your healthcare benefits and make your own conclusions.
We have only scratched the surface on this topic, a very small scratch! The more we know about our resources and benefits, the better we can take care of our families and ourselves. Check out http://www.tricare.mil/ to learn more about the specifics and have hours of fun!
Spouses are an invaluable part of the military and together we are one.