Tricare Entitlement Program: How to make it work for you

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- It is important for you and your family to have the best health possible. Health Benefits Awareness month has ended, but with a final note, there are some important things for you and your family to know about your health care entitlements. 

As servicemembers residing in Germany, it is possible that travel has become part of your lifestyle. If so, there are many things to taken into consideration before starting out on your next journey. 

There are few things worse than embarking on a trip only to have the plans interrupted with an illness or accident. Because of this, it is important to always ask, "What if ...?" when making travel plans. Your travel plans should include a review of your medical coverage and what steps you must take if the need should arise. 

The following are preparations you can make prior to setting out on your next excursion: 

  • Pack your Tricare Europe Passport.
  • Keep your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, information for you and your family current.
  • Get any routine care before you travel and obtain adequate routine medications, which you should carry with you and not in your checked baggage. Any routine care obtained while traveling for Prime beneficiaries must be pre-approved by your primary care provider or Tricare Service Center.
  • Any non-Tricare beneficiary traveling to Europe should check with their insurance carrier to see what is covered overseas and obtain travelers insurance if necessary.
  • If traveling to a foreign country, it is important to see if there are any recommended immunizations to get before travelling.
  • If traveling to another country, it is wise to know the number for the American Embassy or Consulate and the local emergency phone numbers.
While taking preemptive measures may ease travelling concerns about illnesses or low-scale accidents, it is also imperative to know what to do in case of an emergency. 

Tricare defines an emergency as a medical, maternity or psychiatric condition that would lead any prudent layperson to believe a serious medical condition exists for which immediate medical treatment is needed to save life, limb or eyesight. 

The following are steps to take in the event of an emergency:
  • Seek treatment immediately at the nearest military treatment facility or host-nation hospital emergency room.
  • Active-duty members traveling on temporary duty or leave orders and Prime enrolled family members should call the Tricare Global Remote Alarm Center at 0044-208-762-8429 immediately for assistance.
    • The alarm center can assist with locating appropriate medical care, emergency medical transportation and provide a guarantee of payment to the treating facility whenever possible.
  • Standard beneficiaries should also seek care immediately at the nearest emergency room, but be aware that most facilities in Europe will require upfront payment. You would have to pay for the services received and file a claim with Tricare for reimbursement in the region where you live.
Another thing to consider when travelling and in need of assistance, is the option for receiving urgent care. 

Tricare defines an urgent medical need as one for an illness or injury which does not require immediate treatment to avoid further disability or death, but requires professional attention and has the potential to become more serious if treatment is delayed longer than 24 hours. 

Tricare Prime beneficiaries should contact their Tricare Service Center for guidance, and Tricare beneficiaries can seek care locally and pay as a claim. 

While travelling is often focused on seeing the sights, learning about new cultures and having a great time, it's also important while planning excursions to prepare ahead of time for that unexpected emergency. Know what Tricare options are available to you.