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Home : News : News
NEWS | May 29, 2024

Recent graduate? Learn how TRICARE covers young adults

By TRICARE Communications

Did your child recently graduate high school or college? Congratulations! While you help them get ready for their next steps, you may have questions about how their health coverage options will change.

“When your child graduates or celebrates certain milestones or birthdays, their TRICARE health plan options may change,” said Debra Fisher, a health system specialist with the TRICARE Policy & Programs Branch at the Defense Health Agency. “It’s important to get familiar with these options so your adult child can make an informed decision about their health coverage.”

Here’s some information about how young adults may continue using TRICARE, based on their age and student status.

Before age 21 and during college

Adult children can keep their existing TRICARE coverage until at least age 21. College students may continue using their existing plan until graduating or turning age 23—whichever comes first. To qualify, they must be a full-time student at an approved institution of higher learning, and their TRICARE sponsor must provide more than 50% of their financial support.

Is your child leaving home for college? Moving is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event. This means that the college student and their family members may be eligible to change TRICARE plans within 90 days of the move.

If your child is a college student, make sure to update their student status and address in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). This is especially important if they’re moving to a different TRICARE region or outside of a Prime Service Area. If you have questions about your child’s eligibility, contact your local ID card office.

Learn more about going to college with TRICARE.

TRICARE Young Adult

If your child recently lost eligibility for TRICARE due to their age or graduation, they may qualify for TRICARE Young Adult (TYA). They must meet these criteria:

  • Unmarried adult child of an eligible uniformed service sponsor
  • At least age 21 but under age 26
  • Not eligible to enroll in their own employer-sponsored health plan 
  • Not eligible for other TRICARE plans
  • Not a member of the uniformed services

TYA coverage includes medical and pharmacy benefits. It may also cover routine eye exams, but it doesn’t include other vision benefits or dental benefits. If your child would like dental or vision coverage, they’ll need to buy it separately.

How your child gets care with TYA depends on whether they enroll in the TYA Prime Option or TYA Select Option. Eligibility for these options is based on sponsor status and where the child lives.

TYA has a monthly premium. Additional costs are based on enrollment in TYA Prime or TYA Select, sponsor’s status, and where your child gets care. To learn more about these costs, check out the Compare Costs tool.

You can purchase TYA coverage at any time once your child shows as eligible in DEERS.

As detailed in the TRICARE Young Adult Program Fact Sheet, adult children can also end TYA coverage at any time. Certain changes in status, like turning age 26 or getting married, will also cause their TYA coverage to end. If you end TYA coverage, you can’t purchase it again for the next 12 months. (This lockout doesn’t apply if you gain access to an employer-sponsored health plan or other TRICARE coverage.)

Continued Health Care Benefit Program

Is your child or sponsor no longer eligible for TRICARE? They may choose to buy coverage through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP), which provides the same health and prescription coverage as TRICARE Select. CHCBP is a premium-based plan. Check out the Compare Costs tool to learn more.

CHCBP acts as a “bridge” between TRICARE and your next civilian health plan for up to 36 months. If your adult child chooses to buy CHCBP coverage, they must enroll within 60 days of losing eligibility for TRICARE.

Other coverage options

Not eligible for TYA or CHCBP? Your adult child may still have other coverage options. They may also qualify for cost savings on certain commercial health plans.

For example, losing TRICARE coverage qualifies your child to enroll in a plan in the Health Insurance Marketplace. They can search the marketplace to find options that meet your family’s budget and needs.

Depending on your child’s income, student status, and state of residence, they may also qualify for Medicaid coverage or for cost savings on certain commercial health plans.

Be sure to research and discuss health plan options with your child, so they can choose a plan that works for their needs. Do you have questions about your adult child’s TRICARE plan options or coverage? Contact your TRICARE regional contractor.

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