Put TRICARE on your pre-deployment checklist

  • Published
  • By Tyler Patterson
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
If there's one universal rule in the military, it's that your pre-deployment days can be hectic.

There's a lot on your plate that needs taking care of, like getting your finances and legal documents in order and making arrangements for your family while you're gone. If you are deploying from a reserve component, you may also need to square things away with your civilian employer before you leave.

With so much going on, it can be easy to overlook your TRICARE benefit -- but don't worry! Making sure your family has healthcare coverage while you are deployed is as easy as it is important.

Know the "What" 

First, make sure your spouse has access to all necessary records. This includes a copy of your orders at the bare minimum. If your spouse will need access to your medical records, you will need to prepare an "authorization to disclose" form. You can download this form at www.triwest.com, from the "Find a Form" page.

Next, make sure the records for you and each family member are current in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Additionally, show your spouse how to make changes in DEERS at a nearby ID card-issuing office, by phone (1-800-538-9552), or online at www.tricare.osd.mil/deers.

After that, check your family's identification cards. If any will expire while you're deployed, be sure to replace them before you leave. Current ID cards are required for accessing health care through your TRICARE benefit.

Know the "How" 

Finally, make sure your spouse knows the basics of your TRICARE coverage.

· Encourage your spouse or child's guardian to attend a mobilization briefing or Family Readiness Group meeting in their area. Benefit videos and information are also available at TriWest's "TRICARE 2 You Online Library," at www.triwest.com/t2u.

· Make a list of contact numbers: 

o Your primary care manager/family physician 

o A nearby emergency room 

o A beneficiary counseling and assistance coordinator 

o TriWest, your regional contractor
-Online at www.triwest.com: Registered users can find answers, check status of claims, authorizations and referrals and track expenses. 

-1-888-TRIWEST (874-9378) 

o Review your family's TRICARE plan so they know how to properly access care and fill prescriptions.

For more pre-deployment tips covering everything from automobile storage to legal resources, visit the "Force Health Protection and Readiness Pre-Deployment" page at http://fhp.osd.mil/preDeployment.jsp. Members of the reserve component can also visit www.triwest.com/ngr for additional pre- and post-deployment advice.