Put TRICARE on Your Pre-Deployment Checklist

  • Published
  • By By Tyler Patterson
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance staff writer
If there's one universal rule in the military, it's that pre-deployment days can be hectic. 

With so much going on, it can be easy for servicemembers to overlook their TRICARE benefits; however, ensuring that dependents have proper health care coverage is an important item to add to a pre-deployment checklist. 

Know the 'What'
To secure proper health care for dependents, pre-deploying members must make sure their spouse or family has access to all necessary medical records, including a copy of the servicemember's deployment orders. If dependents need to access their sponsor's medical records, they will need to prepare an "authorization to disclose" form, which can be downloaded at www.triwest.com, from the "Find a Form" page. 

Servicemembers should also review their records and each of their dependents' records, ensuring they are current in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. It's also a good idea to show families how to make changes in DEERS at a nearby ID card-issuing office. You can do this by phone (1-800-538-9552) or online at www.tricare.osd.mil/deers

After completing these steps, servicemembers should also check their dependents' identification cards. If any are due to expire during the deployment, replace them beforehand. This will secure future access to health care as ID is required for initial admittance. 

Know the 'How'
Finally, servicemembers should confirm their dependents know the basics of their TRICARE coverage by encouraging their spouse or child's guardian to attend a mobilization briefing or an Airmen and Family Readiness Group briefing. 

"I would highly encourage the pre-deployer and [their dependents] to come to the TRICARE office prior to making any decisions to travel home while the spouse is deployed. We have a lot of people that think they can go home to mom's house and get routine care (i.e. well woman exams, immunizations for the kids, well child visits) while they're visiting and that's not the case. Routine care out of area is not a covered benefit so we like to educate the spouse to such things," said SueAnn Turner, Clinical Liaison Nurse. "It's important information and we find a lot of people don't get educated prior to and then they're stuck with authorization or claims issues and we would rather avoid." 

Benefit videos and information are also available at TriWest's TRICARE 2 you Online Library, at www.triwest.com/t2u.

Deploying personnel should also make a list of contact numbers including their primary care manager or family physician, a nearby emergency room, a beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinator and their TriWest regional contractor, which can be done online at www.triwest.com.

For more pre-deployment tips covering everything from automobile storage to legal resources, visit the "Force Health Protection and Readiness Pre-Deployment" page at http://fhp.osd.mil/preDeployment.jsp. Members of the reserve component can also visit www.triwest.com/ngr for additional pre- and post-deployment advice.