Active duty service men and women and their immediate family members receive health care coverage under TRICARE. If your former spouse served in the armed forces, you may be wondering whether you still qualify for TRICARE benefits after the divorce. You might be able to keep your military health care policy if you satisfy the eligibility requirements. TRICARE offers varying levels of coverage for former spouses under a couple different scenarios. This article covers the types of TRICARE insurance available to ex-spouses of service members after divorce.
As a former spouse, you will establish your TRICARE coverage and health care information under your own Social Security Number. You will also make doctor’s appointments and file health insurance claims under your own number. To obtain separate coverage, you must submit the following documents to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS):
The type of coverage a former spouse receives under TRICARE depends mostly on the length of the marriage. Continuing health care benefits are available in three varying levels of coverage, ranging from full coverage to temporary transitional benefits.
Under the 20/20/20 rule, the ex-spouse keeps all TRICARE health care benefits as long as he or she can satisfy the following strict set of requirements:
The last prong means that the marriage and the service period must have occurred at the same time.
If the former spouse fulfills all three prongs of the 20/20/20 rule, he or she is eligible to hang on to the full TRICARE package, retain access to the military Post Exchange (PX) and keep base and commissary privileges. A qualifying ex-spouse receives comprehensive TRICARE benefits through age 65, which is the age most people first become eligible for Medicare benefits.
Calculating the period of overlapping marriage and service requirements can be a source of confusion for some people. The critical dates for evaluating the three sets of 20-year requirements are the date of the marriage, the start/end of service and the date of the divorce decree. The years of marriage need not be consecutive. If the parties were legally separated during the marriage and later reconciled, the former spouse can still qualify as long as the total years of marriage add up to 20.
TRICARE coverage is available for former military spouses under the 20/20/15 rule as long as he or she meets the following requirements:
Unlike benefits under the 20/20/20 rule, full coverage is only available for up to one year after the divorce under this rule. Former spouses who meet 20/20/15 guidelines also do not receive PX access or base and commissary privileges.
If you weren’t married long enough to qualify under either the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rule, you are still entitled to receive temporary TRICARE benefits while you transition to a civilian health care plan. The Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) was designed to act as a bridge between military and civilian health care insurance to avoid any gaps in coverage. Health care insurance through CHCBP is not free, but it provides former spouses with TRICARE benefits for 18-36 months after TRICARE eligibility ends. The program includes benefits similar to those available under the TRICARE Standard Plan. Former spouses who wish to enroll in CHCBP must apply within 60 days from the date of divorce. Health care coverage under CHCBP is not available to former spouses of individuals who served in NATO or Partners for Peace.
As a former spouse, you will lose your TRICARE benefits under any of the above scenarios if you fail to meet the eligibility requirements. All three types of continuing coverage depend on the following: