Knowing The Mysterious Military Medical Care

The Military Health System is the enterprise within the United States Department of Defense responsible for providing health care to active duty and retired U.S. Military personnel and their dependents. The mission of the Military Health System (MHS) is to provide health support for the full range of military operations and sustain the health of all who are entrusted to MHS care.

The primary mission of the medical services system is to maintain the health of military personnel, so they can carry out their military missions, and to be prepared to deliver health care required during wartime. Often described as the medical readiness mission, this effort involves medical testing and screening of recruits, emergency medical treatment of servicemen and women involved in hostilities, and the maintenance of physical standards of those in the armed services. In support of those in uniform, the military medical system also provides, where space is available, health care services to dependents of active duty service members. Space available care is also provided to retirees and their dependents. Some former spouses are also included. Since 1966 civilian medical care for dependents of active duty personnel, and for retirees and their dependents who are under age 65 has been available (with certain limitations and co-payments) through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) and its successor, TRICARE. Since October 2001 TRICARE benefits have also been available to retirees and their dependents aged 65 and over.
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Tricare for Life. Until recently, when a retiree or retiree family member reached the age of 65, they were no longer eligible for Tricare. Instead, they were expected to receive medical care under the provisions of Medicare. This changed this year (2001) with the introduction of "Tricare for Life." Again, there is no need to enroll in advance (except one must be enrolled in Medicare Part B). Additionally, the only charges for this program are the monthly Medicare Part B Premiums ($54.00 per month in 2002). Under this program, you see an authorized Medicare Provider and present your ID Card. Tricare then becomes the "second payer," and picks up any costs that Medicare doesn't cover.
Although Medicare doesn’t cover services provided outside of the continental United States, retirees residing in foreign countries can still take advantage of TFL because Tricare becomes the primary source of health benefits for them. Like those living in the United States, to be eligible overseas retirees must be enrolled in Medicare Part B. Tricare for Life will provide the same level of coverage afforded retirees under 65 and they will be responsible for the same Tricare cost shares and deductibles as the under 65 retirees. Since a great number of retirees living overseas did not enroll in Part B because Medicare didn’t cover medical care received in foreign countries, some of the military related organizations are pushing for a waiver of the Part B penalty which entails a 10 percent penalty for each year the individual was eligible for Part B but didn’t enroll. However, there is currently nothing in the works that indicates such a waiver is coming.
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