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Brochure Tops Triad of TRICARE Tips

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 1996 – A new brochure on the way to military hospitals and clinics describes TRICARE, DoD's health care plan in an easytoread, straightforward manner.

"Your Military Health Plan," a 16page color booklet, will be shipped worldwide soon, according to Army Lt. Col. Kathryn Ingram, TRICARE marketing director. In addition, regional TRICARE lead agents will receive the brochure on diskette for local printing so everyone who needs a copy can get one, she said.

The brochure is the third stage of DoD's TRICARE marketing effort. In addition, Ingram's office produced two videotapes, one for active duty service members and their families and the other for retirees and their families. The videos describe the basics of TRICARE and include information on TRICARE implementation dates and where to go for more information or to enroll in TRICARE Prime, the plan's health maintenance option.

Ingram said the 10minute videos can be locally reproduced and provided free of charge to groups.

Following the videos, a 20minute slide briefing describes TRICARE in greater detail. Hospital and clinic commanders received the briefing and were encouraged to make it available to all beneficiary audiences.

"The recommendation from the secretary of defense down is that every active duty member be required to get this information," Ingram said. "Additionally, active duty spouses and retirees and their family members should also be briefed, because those are the people who are most affected by TRICARE.

"It's important for us to educate and inform people about TRICARE because it affects 8.3 million people," Ingram added. "People need to understand their benefits and options so that they can make smart choices about their health care."

Ingram said products the TRICARE Marketing Office produces are standardized and widely distributed, so everybody entitled to military health care receives the same, accurate information. In addition, a marketing plan distributed to bases includes the roles and responsibilities for marketing TRICARE at every level of the military health services system.

She said her toughest challenge is making the information interesting and appealing enough that people will take the time to attend a briefing or meet with a local TRICARE representative. Like most civilian health care programs, TRICARE is complex and requires careful scrutiny, she said.

"I encourage people to get TRICARE information as soon as possible," Ingram said. "A lot of us shy away from learning new things, especially when they're technical or difficult, but it won't get any easier by putting it off. It's better to have the facts ahead of time so that you've got all the information you need and can make the decision that's best for you."

Groups and individuals needing information about TRICARE should visit their local military health facility and ask to see either the TRICARE representative or patient affairs office, Ingram added.

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