TRICARE for Life Benefits: Understanding Military Healthcare

Health benefits and any kind of insurance are some of the more difficult subjects to fully understand. With pages of jargon to sift through and endless fine print, it’s more than reasonable that many service members don’t understand the coverage they’re entitled to.

Here, we’ll go over TRICARE for Life benefits, in an effort to clearly explain what this health coverage means and how it works. For a full summary on TRICARE and its coverage programs, click here.

What is TRICARE for Life?

TRICARE for Life (TFL) is Medicare-wraparound coverage for TRICARE-eligible military retirees. So, to explain what TFL is, we’ll first need to go over what TRICARE and Medicare both are on their own.

TRICARE is government-provided health insurance for active and retired military service members and their dependents. Medicare is a healthcare benefit offered by the government for any retiree, not just those in the military.

TRICARE for Life then means that once you retire from the armed forces, the TRICARE that covered you while you were on active duty will continue to function even in retirement by supplementing any bills that Medicare won’t cover. In order to be eligible for TFL, you’ll need to have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.

TRICARE for Life Benefits

  • Covers the remaining expenses after Medicare
  • You won’t pay out-of-pocket expenses
  • Overseas cover
  • Pharmacy access

In most cases, TFL will cover the remaining cost of a medical procedure after Medicare pays its portion. How it works is when you have a procedure done or you see a specialist, your healthcare provider will send a claim to Medicare. Medicare pays its portion of the claim and sends the remainder to TFL. If the service is covered, TFL will take care of the difference.

There are no premiums or out-of-pocket expenses associated with TRICARE for Life benefits themselves, but you will need to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which is based on your income. Additionally, if the procedure you need is covered by TFL but not Medicare, or vice versa, you may have to pay a deductible.

TFL also covers you overseas. Medicare won’t pay for a claim made outside the U.S. Even U.S. territories aren’t covered under Medicare jurisdiction. Therefore, TFL is your resource for health coverage internationally.

With TFL, another great benefit is that you’ll receive comprehensive pharmacy options that help make sure you get the medication you need, safely and cost-effectively.

Beware – there will always be changes to these policies and like any healthcare provider, it’s important to read the fine print for yourself. Check out the latest updates to TRICARE for Life benefits here.

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