When your soldier goes to basic training, he will fill out the paperwork for his dependents (wife and children) to enroll in DEERS. This puts you into the Army system and provides healthcare coverage through Tricare. When he enrolls you, you will automatically be enrolled in Tricare Standard. This plan allows you to use physicians off post but you will pay a portion of the costs associated with any visits or procedures.
If you live near a post, Tricare Prime is generally the best deal as your healthcare will be provided at no cost to you. With Prime coverage, you will use the Military Treatment Facility at the closest post. In some cases, this is a hospital and in some cases, it is a clinic. You will be assigned to a Primary Care Manager (PCM) and you will use this doctor for any routine visits. You can still see specialists (civilian, off post) when you are enrolled in Prime but you must obtain a referral from your PCM first. Referrals are not hard to get but sometimes can be time consuming through making the appointment with the PCM and waiting for the referral approval in the mail.
To enroll in Prime, you will need to visit the Tricare office. They will give you a short set of forms to fill out. At the completion of that, you will be given a copy and your paperwork will be processed. Within a week or so, you will receive cards in the mail indicating your Prime enrollment. I’ve never personally had to use these cards – the only one anyone is interested in is your military ID.
You will need to update your enrollment with every move that you make. We only moved 130 miles on our first PCS but I still had to change my enrollment. Do not forget to do this!
For more information on Tricare and the different insurance plans offered, please the Tricare website.