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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 216-99
May 05, 1999

AUTOMATIC TRICARE RE-ENROLLMENT PROGRAM ANNOUNCED

The Department of Defense announced today a new healthcare innovation is now in effect that will make repeat "TRICARE Prime" participation easier. As of last Saturday, May 1, the need to submit an annual Tricare re-enrollment became obsolete. In a phased introduction, re-enrollment is automatic unless a beneficiary declines the "Prime" option.

Dr. Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs said, "Automatic re-enrollment eliminates the need for a Prime beneficiary to fill out paperwork every year. The improvement will remove a burden on our beneficiary and improve the TRICARE Prime benefit by simplifying the process for our Prime enrollees."

Beneficiaries will begin receiving notification from their regional contractors about the automatic re-enrollment 30 days prior to the anniversary date of their original sign-up with the military managed care plan.

Regions 1 (Northeast), 2 (Mid-Atlantic) and 5 (Heartland) will be the first regions to implement automatic re-enrollment beginning May 1. All other regional contractors will begin automatic re-enrollment June 1.

"Our goal is to streamline the re-enrollment process and to eliminate paperwork," said Dr. James Sears, executive director, TRICARE Management Activity (TMA). "Our Prime beneficiaries should be able to continue to enjoy the benefits of TRICARE without having to return forms every time their enrollment anniversary rolls around. A response to the notification is required only if a beneficiary wants to make changes or dis-enroll from the Prime benefit."

Thirty days before a beneficiary's enrollment anniversary, the regional contractor will send written notification, and if applicable, an invoice for the annual enrollment fee. The invoice will include options for full or quarterly payments. Monthly installment payments also will be accepted via allotment or electronic funds transfer, beginning next year.

A beneficiary may decline further Tricare Prime enrollment, and may re-enroll at any time as long as he or she remains eligible. Beneficiaries covered by Prime who want to continue their coverage, but do not receive notification of automatic re-enrollment, or those with other questions about Tricare, should contact their regional Tricare office. Regional offices can be reached by calling the following toll-free numbers: Northeast (Region 1), 1-888-999-5195; Mid-Atlantic (Region 2), 1-800-931-9501; Southeast (Region 3), 1-800-444-5445; Puerto Rico and Latin America (Region 3), 1-888-777-8343; Heartland (Region 5), 1-800-941-4501; Southwest (Region 6), 1-800-406-2832; Central (Regions 7/8), 1-888-TRIWEST (1-888-874-9378); Southern California (Region 9) and Golden Gate (Region 10), 1-800-242-6788; Northwest (Region 11), 1-800-404-0110; Pacific (Region 12), 1-800-777-8343; Hawaii, 1-800-242-6788, and Alaska, 1-888-777-8343, Europe, 1-888-777-8343.

Information is also available on the World Wide Web at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/.