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TRICARE transitions with college-bound students

PHOENIX -- For high-school graduates, the start of college can be an exciting and challenging time. Big decisions are made on the right college to attend, a place to live and academic course load. One thing constant during this transition is TRICARE coverage.

Dependent children continue to be TRICARE eligible as long as they are a full-time student until their 23rd birthday or until they graduate college, whichever comes first. They must remain eligible for TRICARE in the Defense Eligibility and Enrollment System.

It's important for beneficiaries to research which TRICARE option is best for them; Prime, Standard or Extra. A beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinator at a military treatment facility or a TRICARE service center representative can help with the process.

Transferring to a new region for school? Follow these steps:

· Sponsors must complete and sign a new enrollment application. This form updates their address and indicates which TRICARE option they will use. The form can be completed online using the Beneficiary Web Enrollment at www.tricare.mil or manually by downloading the form.

· Sponsors must send the completed new or change enrollment applications to the regional managed care support contractor in the student's new region for processing.

· Active duty family members can transfer their TRICARE Prime enrollment by phone-call the current regional contractor prior to the move or the new regional contractor upon arrival at the new location.

Split enrollment allows beneficiaries to enroll their child in one region while the rest of the family lives and is enrolled in a different region. Students should stay enrolled in their home region until they arrive in their new region. The transfer is effective the date the request is received by the contractor in the new region.

Retirees whose family enrollment fees are current pay no additional fees when their child transfers their enrollment to another region. Students in retired families are allowed two transfers per year between TRICARE regions, as long as the second transfer is back to the region of the original enrollment.

In active duty families, students may transfer their Prime enrollment as often as needed. A child's enrollment in TRICARE Prime is automatically renewed at the end of the one-year enrollment period unless the sponsor declines the renewal offer. TRICARE Prime is only available in prime service areas. Students who move to an area where Prime is not available must disenroll from TRICARE Prime. This should be done immediately to avoid paying higher costs under TRICARE Prime's point-of-service option. Beneficiaries can incur POS charges when receiving care without proper authorization from their primary care manager.

Many colleges and universities also offer student health plans. Student health plans are considered other health insurance, making TRICARE the secondary payer to a student health plan. For students interested in using a student health plan, TRICARE Standard is the best option.

For students who age out of regular TRICARE, they may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult. TYA is a premium-based program that provides TRICARE benefits to beneficiaries up to age 26 who are unmarried and not eligible for their own employer-sponsored health care coverage. For more information on TYA, visit www.tricare.mil/tya.

TRICARE benefits are the same across the TRICARE regions, but may require different authorizations or referral procedures, determined by the TRICARE regional contractors. For more information on taking TRICARE to college, visit www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/LifeEvents/College.

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