Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    TRICARE is the health insurance program featuring comprehensive health coverage offered to military members and their families. There are several plan options under TRICARE including the program known as TRICARE Select. The full range of TRICARE options includes:

    • TRICARE Prime
    • TRICARE Prime Remote
    • TRICARE Prime Overseas
    • TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas
    • TRICARE Select
    • TRICARE Select Overseas
    • TRICARE For Life
    • TRICARE Reserve Select
    • TRICARE Retired Reserve
    • TRICARE Young Adult
    • US Family Health Plan

    Under TRICARE Select and TRICARE Select Overseas, healthcare options are different than those offered through TRICARE Prime, which provides care offered through a Primary Care Manager (PCM) with the option to be referred to a network provider. Under TRICARE Select, the procedure is different.

    Using TRICARE Select

    Those who enroll in TRICARE Select are allowed to visit any TRICARE provider and do not have to visit a primary care provider before doing so (unlike TRICARE PRIME).

    The TRICARE official site says Select enrollees never need a referral for “any type of care” authorized under TRICARE. However, the TRICARE Select official site reminds enrollees, that while referrals are not required, “you may need prior authorization from your regional contractor for some services.”

    An authorized TRICARE provider for the purposes of using your TRICARE Select benefits is defined on the official site as, “any individual, institution/organization, or supplier that is licensed by a state, accredited by national organization, or meets other standards of the medical community, and is certified to provide benefits under TRICARE.”

    TRICARE Select enrollees have two types of authorized providers to choose from, network and non-network care providers. The enrollee’s choices will affect the out-of-pocket costs and whether or not you are required to file your own insurance claims or not.

    TRICARE Select users are not sent “wallet cards” that are used when using insurance for care in other instances. You only need a valid, unexpired military-issued ID card to use your Select coverage for health care.

    Eligibility For TRICARE Select

    The following people are eligible to apply for healthcare coverage under TRICARE Select:

    • Active duty family members
    • Retired service members and their families
    • Family members of activated Guard and Reserve members
    • Non-activated Guard/Reserve members and their families who qualify for care under the Transitional Assistance Management Program
    • Retired Guard/Reserve members at age 60 and their families
    • Surviving spouses and surviving dependents
    • Medal of Honor recipients and their families
    • Qualified former spouses

    In order to successfully apply for TRICARE Select, enrollees must be registered in Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), and your file must show that you are eligible for TRICARE. Registering in DEERS is mandatory for those seeking TRICARE coverage.

    TRICARE Select Costs For The Enrollee

    Your out-of-pocket costs for TRICARE Select will vary based on the nature and status of the military member’s service. You may be charged an annual outpatient deductible and there may be cost-sharing or you may pay a percentage of costs required for eligible medical services.

    When using TRICARE Select and getting care from a network provider, you will only need to pay your cost, a percentage of the total cost, or copay at the time of the appointment. When using a non-network provider you may be required to pay in full up front and apply to claim a reimbursement which will be paid (once approved) at a later date.

    Who Is Right For TRICARE Select Coverage?

    Remember, active duty military are required to use TRICARE Prime, and unlike their family members, active duty military cannot enroll in Select.

    TRICARE Select is right for those who fit one or more of the following circumstances:

    • Enrollees who live in an area where TRICARE Prime cannot be used.
    • Enrollees who have other health insurance in addition to TRICARE, including Medicare, employer-sponsored health insurance, etc.
    • Enrollees who want to use a care provider who isn’t in the TRICARE network, and you don’t want to switch.

    Remember, TRICARE supplements don’t qualify as “other health insurance” the way an employer-sponsored health plan would.

    TRICARE Select Overseas

    TRICARE Select Overseas replaces the older TRICARE Standard Overseas. TRICARE Select Overseas is described as a “self-managed, preferred provider network plan” to be used when stationed outside the United States. Like TRICARE Select, the Overseas option requires the enrollees to be listed in DEERS and in that listing the family member’s record must show them as eligible to apply for TRICARE Select Overseas.

    There are similarities between the two programs, but it’s best to assume unless instructed otherwise that your payment requirements or procedures for TRICARE Select Overseas may be different because the nature of medical care, billing, and other factors are different in each host nation. There may be certain adjustments needed depending on the host nation’s laws, customs, etc.

    Who Is Eligible For TRICARE SELECT Overseas

    • Active duty family members
    • Retired service members and family
    • Family members of those activated ordered to active duty service for more than 30 days in a row
    • Non-activated Guard/Reserve members and their families eligible for the Transitional Assistance Management Program
    • Qualifying retired Guard/Reserve members at age 60 and their families
    • Survivors
    • Medal of Honor recipients and their families
    • Qualifying former spouses

    How TRICARE Select Overseas Works

    When enrolled in TRICARE Select Overseas, you’re required to schedule an appointment, but can do so with any approved overseas care provider (under the Find A Doctor section of the TRICARE official site). A referral is not required for care, but prior authorization will be required for certain services – you will need to discuss which services need this authorization with a TRICARE representative.

    TRICARE Select Overseas does not require the use of wallet cards – your military ID will be sufficient.

    How Services Are Paid For Under TRICARE Select Overseas

    Costs of care will vary depending on the military status of the service member. There is an annual outpatient deductible, and cost sharing for covered medical services. You will need to consult with a TRICARE Select Overseas rep to learn how payment issues may be affected depending on the region you will be using the plan in overseas.

    Written by Team