FALLS CHURCH, Virginia –
For many parents, summer is a time of preparation, as they help their children get ready to move away to college. For your child, it might be their first time away from home. Will they have health care if they get sick or injured? Fortunately, your child’s TRICARE coverage will stay with them in college if enrolled full-time and meeting eligibility requirements.
“Keeping your child’s health care coverage while away at college can be a huge relief to parents,” said Jeremy Schneider, program analyst with the TRICARE Health Plan’s Policy and Programs Section at the Defense Health Agency. “While enrolled in college, children may be eligible for regular TRICARE benefits until their 23rd birthday or graduation, whichever comes first.”
As outlined in the TRICARE Qualifying Life Events Fact Sheet, moving away to college is a Qualifying Life Event (QLE). This gives you and your family 90 days to make eligible enrollment changes. What are your child’s health plan options? That depends on their current TRICARE plan and the location of their college campus.
TRICARE Prime and US Family Health Plan
If your child is enrolled in TRICARE Prime or US Family Health Plan (USFHP), they may choose to keep enrollment at your home address. Another option is transferring enrollment to the college’s address if TRICARE Prime coverage is available there. This will help them continue to get care from a primary care manager and save on out-of-pocket medical costs. Your child can also transfer TRICARE Prime coverage using the split enrollment option if attending college in a different region.
TRICARE Select and premium-based plans
Students enrolled in TRICARE Select or a premium-based plan, like TRICARE Reserve Select or TRICARE Retired Reserve, will keep the same coverage. If your child currently has TRICARE Prime but it isn’t available in the college location, they have the option to switch to TRICARE Select.
Is your child planning to study overseas? Students can enroll in TRICARE Select Overseas if attending college overseas alone. Students who are command-sponsored and live with their active-duty sponsor overseas remain eligible for TRICARE Prime Overseas or TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas. These two health plans aren’t available to students living or traveling overseas whose sponsor lives in the U.S.
Other health care options
What if your child is attending a service academy? Service academy cadets are also eligible for TRICARE medical and dental care. Check out the Attending Service Academies page to learn more.
Some schools offer student health plans. These plans count as other health insurance (OHI) and work with TRICARE to coordinate your benefits. Remember, TRICARE pays after OHI in most cases.
TRICARE coverage for college students past age 21
Children age out of TRICARE when they turn age 21, but coverage may be extended until age 23 for college students if certain criteria are met. To extend your child’s TRICARE coverage past age 21, you’ll need:
- A letter from the school registrar’s office confirming your child is enrolled full-time in an accredited college in pursuit of an associate’s degree or higher.
- Once you have this letter, take it to an ID Card Office and update your child’s record in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) with their student status.
After completing college or turning age 23, whichever comes first, your child may qualify for TRICARE Young Adult (TYA). TYA is an individual plan that provides medical and pharmacy benefits up until age 26.
If you’d like to learn more about the differences between TRICARE plans, you can compare health plans and costs on the TRICARE website. Once you find the right health plan, be sure to inform your regional contractor of any changes. If your child takes regular prescription drugs, consider signing up for TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery. Home delivery can ship your child’s prescription drugs to their new college address. And remember to keep DEERS information on you and your family members current.
For more information on what happens to your child’s coverage when they move away to college, check the Going to College page. Don’t forget if you have questions to reach out to your TRICARE contractor.
To get the latest TRICARE news sent to you by email, visit the TRICARE Subscriptions page today, and create your personalized profile to get benefit updates, news and more.