The question comes up regularly on military message boards and the debate soon ensues. Does the Army (or military) pay for dependents to have plastic surgery for cosmetic purposes? It seems everyone has heard of the pilot program from a few years ago where some dependents were given the option to have cosmetic procedures when they paid for some portion of the surgery (such as the implants). The surgery was performed by Army physicians at relatively little cost compared to a civilian plastic surgeon. But it wasn’t as widespread as some people believe.
Beverly was kind enough to post the Army’s position on cosmetic procedures on the message board and I thought I would share it here with all of you. Please note that this is in regard to procedures that are STRICTLY cosmetic. If there is a medical reason for the surgery, it is possible that Tricare will cover all or part of the costs. Of course, that is determined on a case by case basis.
Regardless, here is the official stance from the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Office:
Recruiters must know the facts and present the truth when faced with questions regarding the Army’s medical Benefits in relation to cosmetic surgery.
According to the Army Surgeon General’s office, “If a person joins the military in hopes of receiving cosmetic surgery, they will almost certainly be disappointed because of the very limited number of cases performed. Military medicine is not in the makeover business.” Cosmetic surgery procedures are NOT covered benefits under TriCare. The Army does have plastic surgeons. Because the skills used in performing the cosmetic surgery procedures are often the same skills required in obtaining optimal results in reconstructive surgery, these surgeons have a valid need to perform cosmetic surgery cases to maintain their specialty surgical skills. They also need to meet board certification, recertification, and graduate medical education program requirements for specialties requiring training in cosmetic surgery. However, the first priority for Army plastic surgeons is taking care of injured Soldiers. Plastic surgery is an integral part of training for battlefield medicine.
Therefore, Army surgeons focus their priorities on reconstructive plastic surgery–such as, repairing cleft palates and reconstructive surgery for patients who have had mastectomies. Surgeons perform a limited amount of cosmetic surgeries on a time and space available basis. Patients pay some of the costs for these surgeries (ie; mastectomy patients pay for their implants) and insurance is collected when possible.
Family members who receive cosmetic surgery pay fees for the procedure and any implants. All patients, including Active Duty soldiers, undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures must pay the surgical fee, plus any applicable institutional and anesthesia fee, for the procedures in accordance with the fee schedule published annually by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Comptroller.