Dependent children are eligible for regular TRICARE benefits while in college full time until their 23 birthday or until graduation, whichever comes first. After that, children may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult.
The service member must update the dependent child’s “student status” in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to maintain the student’s TRICARE eligibility past age 21.
Before sending a son or daughter to college, it is important for military families to review their child’s health care options because some TRICARE options will work better than others. Here are some tips to consider:
Location. Where is the school located? Is it in a Prime Service Area? Contact the regional contractor for the TRICARE region where the school is located to determine if the school is in a Prime Service Area.
Transportation. Will your son or daughter have a car at school? Will your child be able to get to his or her assigned Primary Care Manager (PCM)? If enrolled in Prime, your child will need to see his or her PCM or additional fees will apply.
Cost. TRICARE plans have different cost sharing components and your student may need a split-enrollment in order to receive care while at college. A split enrollment allows some members of the family to be enrolled under one plan and other members of the family to be enrolled under another type of plan. For example, the family may be enrolled in TRICARE Prime, but the college-age student may be enrolled in TRICARE Standard. Or the college student may disenroll from Prime at his or her home location and re-enroll for Prime at the school location. Please review disenrollment options carefully. Students may be subject to a one-year lock-out if disenrolling from Prime and will not be able to re-enroll in Prime at their home location when returning for the summer. Families should check with their TRICARE contractor for more details.
On Campus Options. Many colleges and universities offer student health plans. Student health plans are considered other insurance, so TRICARE will be the secondary payer to any student health plan. TRICARE Standard and Extra work best with student health plans.
Visit our website for additional information about TRICARE options for college age kids.