Healthcare for college-bound students

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- When it's time for children to go to college, parents will face many decisions. Continued health care coverage is one of them.

Tricare covers eligible students until age 23 as long as they attend school full time. One decision parents will have to make is determining which Tricare option will work best for their children. Although families may be enrolled in Tricare Prime, this may not be the best choice for their college-bound sons or daughters.

If the student's college or university is located in an area where Tricare Prime is offered, they can transfer their Tricare Prime enrollment. It is not necessary to have all family members enrolled in the same region.

To assist in determining if there is a provider network within the area where the college is located, merely type in the zip code at www.tricare.mil to locate network providers and find necessary Tricare Prime enrollment forms.

Military retirees should keep in mind that although Tricare Prime is not an option in Japan, it is in the United States and parents can enroll their children there. However, there is an annual enrollment fee for Tricare Prime for retirees and their dependents.

Children have continuous Tricare Prime coverage while traveling from one region to another. It is recommended for parents to stay enrolled in their home region until arriving at the new region. It is important to note that the essence of the Tricare program is that the primary care manager manages healthcare services. While traveling, only emergent and urgent care should be sought. All routine care should wait until arrival at the new location.

If Tricare Prime is not available in the new location, parents can withdraw their children from Tricare Pacific Prime and Tricare Standard will cover the student. Tricare Standard has a 20-percent co-pay, 25 percent for retirees, after the annual deductible of $150 for the individual and $300 for the family is satisfied.

The child's college may offer a student insurance plan. If parents sign up with another insurance company, this insurance company becomes the primary payer and Tricare Standard becomes the secondary payer.

When the child visits home during holidays, parents may transfer their child's enrollment back to their home region. There is no charge and no restriction on the number of times an active-duty family member can transfer enrollment to a different region. Retiree family members are allowed one transfer from and one transfer back to the original region within a 12-month period.

For more information about college-bound students and Tricare, go to www.tricare.mil or contact the Tricare Service Center at 225-6478.