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How to Enroll in Veterans Health Insurance (Tricare)

Tricare is a health insurance program available to veterans, and it comes in four varieties: Tricare Prime, Tricare Extra, Tricare Standard, and Tricare for Life. Tricare, the military's health insurance plan, actually covers everyone — active-duty members, retirees, and their families.

Check your eligibility for veterans health insurance (Tricare)

You’re eligible for Tricare benefits if you:

  • Are a retired active-duty member.

  • Are retired from the reserves or National Guard and are age 60 or older.

  • Served in the military (for any length of time) and were awarded the Medal of Honor.

  • A spouse or child of an eligible veteran, including:

    • Unmarried children under the age of 21

    • Children under the age of 23 attending college and whose parent(s) provide at least 50 percent support

    • Severely disabled child whose condition existed prior to his 21st birthday, or between the ages of 21 and 23 while the child was enrolled in college.

  • A surviving spouse of a military member who died on active duty.

    These Tricare benefits expire three years after the death of the active-duty member.

  • An ex-spouse of a military member or retiree, if — as of the date of the divorce — you were married to the member or veteran for at least 20 years, and your ex was in the military for at least 20 years of the marriage.

  • An ex-spouse of a military member or retiree, if — as of the date of the divorce — you were married to the member or veteran for at least 20 years, and your ex was in the military for at least 15 years, but less than 20 years, of the marriage.

These Tricare benefits expire one year after the date of the divorce.

If you are a surviving spouse or a former spouse and you remarry, you lose your Tricare benefits. Unlike many veterans benefits, you do not regain Tricare if that subsequent marriage later ends.

Enroll for veterans health insurance (Tricare)

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria for Tricare, veterans and family members need to ensure they are enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). If you’re eligible for Tricare, you’re probably already enrolled in DEERS, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure the information is up to date.

Mistakes or outdated information in the DEERS database can cause problems with Tricare claims.

You can verify and update your DEERS information n several ways:

  • In person: To add or remove family members, or to change your mailing address, phone number, or e-mail address, visit a local ID card office. ID card offices are located on all military bases.

  • By phone: Call the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office at 800-538-9552 to update your mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number.

    You can’t add or remove family members over the phone.

  • By fax: Fax any mailing address, e-mail address, or phone number changes to the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office at 831-655-8317. To add or remove family members, you have to fax supporting documentation (marriage certificate, birth certificate, divorce decree, or death certificate).

  • By mail: Mail changes to the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office. You must also mail supporting documentation if you are adding or removing a family member. The address is Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office, Attn: COA, 400 Gigling Road, Seaside, CA 93955-6771.

  • Online: Visit the DEERS website and follow the steps to update your mailing address, e-mail address, and phone numbers online.

You can’t add or remove family members online.

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