TRICARE computer glitch impeding online open season enrollments

TRICARE recipients who want to change their plan during open season will need to take an old school approach for the rest of the period due to a glitch in the computer system.

The Defense Department says the glitch will not be fixed by the end of open season on Dec. 9. The season started on Nov. 11. This open season is for beneficiaries who want to change their plans starting Jan. 1, 2020.

“We realize some individuals will be inconvenienced by this situation and we ask for their understanding,” Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell told Federal News Network. “There are two other options for changing health plans, and we encourage beneficiaries who wish to do so to take full advantage of those options.”

The other two options are to enroll by phone or mail. To enroll by phone, beneficiaries can call:

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  • Humana Military (TRICARE East): 1-800-444-5445
  • Health Net Federal Services (TRICARE West): 1-844-866-9378
  • Overseas beneficiaries go to TRICARE-overseas.com/contact-us for country specific phone numbers

To enroll by mail, download TRICARE Prime or Select enrollment forms at www.tricare.mil/openseason2019 and send the forms to the contractor address on the forms.

Maxwell said DoD does not have any intention of extending open season due to the online issues. The Defense Manpower Data Center will conduct a sweep of all web “change of enrollment plan transactions” initiated during open season to make sure there is no gap in TRICARE coverage for those who already changed their plans online.

This year marks TRICARE’s second open season enrollment.

“This is the one extended period of time where you have the opportunity to change your TRICARE plan from Prime to Select or Select to Prime,” Francine Forestell, chief of TRICARE customer communications, said during a September webinar hosted by Military OneSource. “If you have any intention to change your plan this would be the time to do it.”

Members can also change from individual plans to family plans or vice versa.

TRICARE Prime offers a lower cost, but fewer options for providers. TRICARE Select, on the other hand, can be more expensive, but offers more providers and patients do not need referrals.

We want to “give our patients the opportunity to select the plan that best works for them,” then- Defense Health Agency Director Vice Adm. Raquel Bono said last year as to why TRICARE adopted open season. “Some of our folks, depending on where they are or what family members they are covering — if they have children in school or young kids at home — may find certain benefits to being part of TRICARE Prime program or moving to TRICARE Select.”

Along with open season last year, dental and vision care for TRICARE retiree beneficiaries were transferred to the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. Retirees can choose from 10 different dental carriers and four vision carriers. Signing up for vision and dental is a completely separate open season and not through the TRICARE system.

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