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NEWS | Aug. 30, 2022

Make sure you understand recent TRICARE telehealth policy changes

TRICARE Communications

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Defense Health Agency, or DHA, made several temporary updates to the TRICARE benefit regarding telehealth. These temporary policy updates allowed you to get care safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DHA has since updated these telehealth policies.
“During COVID-19 lockdown mandates, telehealth policies created opportunities for TRICARE beneficiaries to receive medical care,” said Elan Green, chief of TRICARE Health Plan’s Member Benefits and Reimbursement Section at the DHA. “Now, the DHA understands that telehealth visits are still essential for many families. We’re pleased to continue offering audio-only telehealth services.”
It has now been more than two years since the start of the pandemic. Some of these policy changes have recently expired. Meanwhile, others have become permanent. Listed below are the policy updates.
Audio-only Telehealth
Audio-only telehealth appointments are now a permanent TRICARE benefit. This is effective as of July 1, 2022. This means everyone, including those without access to live, two-way audio and video technology, will continue to have access to telehealth services.
Cost-shares and Copayments
TRICARE placed a temporary waiver on costs at the start of the pandemic. This encouraged the use of telehealth services. That waiver recently expired. This means you’ll have to pay cost-shares and copayments once again.
Telehealth costs are like in-person care costs. Your costs depend on your beneficiary category, health plan, and appointment type. Active duty service members (ADSMs) don’t pay out-of-pocket costs. Active duty family members (ADFMS) who have a TRICARE Prime plan don’t pay either, unless they use the point-of-service (POS) option. As outlined in the TRICARE Costs and Fees Fact Sheet, the POS option allows you to see any TRICARE-authorized provider without a referral. But, the POS option only works for nonemergency services.
You can find specific costs using the TRICARE Compare Cost tool or the TRICARE Costs and Fees Fact Sheet.
Using Telemedicine Services
To find a provider who offers telemedicine services, you can use the Find a Doctor tool. You can also look up providers by going to All Provider Directories. Keep in mind, not all services are available through telemedicine. So, it’s important to check with your provider to see which options are available to you.
Referral or pre-authorization may apply for your telemedicine visit. If you aren’t sure, you can reach out to your TRICARE contractor.
If you’re overseas, the country where you live must allow telemedicine. Your provider must also have a license to practice where you live. You can reach out to your TRICARE Overseas Program Regional Call Center for more information.
Telemedicine is a safe and secure way to connect with your health care provider online. You can learn more about telemedicine services by going to the Telemedicine page on the TRICARE site.
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