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By Christopher Plein, Ph.D. 

The military health system continues to evolve in an effort to support service members and their families.  Central to these efforts is the TRICARE health benefits system which provides access and coverage for a wide array of healthcare services.

As part of OneOp, our Military Caregiving Team hosts webinars that provide updates and information on the TRICARE system and its specific programs and services.   On May 25, 2021, our team hosted, TRICARE 101: Health Plans & Special Programs.  Presented by program personnel with the Defense Health Agency, this 90-minute webinar provided overviews and updates on three programs of interest to providers, families, and caregivers.

Recapping Recent Webinar

The webinar provided an overview of the TRICARE for Life (TFL) program for those retiring from the service.  Helpful information was provided on how this program complements services provided through Medicare. Of special importance was advice and guidance that was offered regarding enrollment timelines to ensure continued healthcare coverage and smooth transitions from career to retirement.  In addition to providing an overview of TRICARE for Life, the presentation also provided links to helpful TFL resources.

The webinar also provided updates on TRICARE’s Extended Health Care Option (ECHO) program, which offers military families the opportunity to opt-in to supplemental coverage and benefits for special needs care. These additional benefits include such services and supplies as durable medical equipment, in-home medical care, in-home respite care, and other assistive services. Family members with physical and developmental disabilities requiring additional care are among the intended beneficiaries of the ECHO program. The presentation focused on key factors relating to eligibility and benefits, including enrollment coordination with the DOD’s Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, for active duty service members.  The presentation also provided updates on recent efforts to enhance care coordination as part of the permanent change of station or PCS process. More information can be found through TRICARE’s ECHO website.

The webinar closed with a focus on TRICARE’s Autism Care Demonstration initiative. Established in 2014, this demonstration effort provides Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services to qualified individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  The presentation offered detailed information on determining eligibility and coordinating care.  For example, eligibility requires enrollment in the ECHO program. For family members of active-duty military personnel, participation in the Exceptional Family Member Program is also required.  The presentation also provided program updates, including the role that Autism Services Navigators (ASMs) now play in service coordination.  The presentation offered links to important resources of information and updates, including TRICARE’s Autism webpage.

The TRICARE 101 webinar has been archived and is available through OneOp.  The webinar’s event page includes presentation slides and other helpful information.

TRICARE 101 is one of a number of webinars that we have offered focusing on TRICARE in general and its specific programs and benefits.  Past webinars have provided updates on general benefits, program developments, mental health coverage, services for those with special needs, as well as specific initiatives such as TRICARE’s Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) program and TRICARE’s Autism Care Demonstration initiative.  All of these have been archived and can be accessed through the links provided.