Military issues call for more providers to serve its Tricare health program

FALLS CHURCH, Va. Concerned about sufficient access to health services for members of the U.S. military and their families, the government is asking more healthcare professionals to become authorized providers for its Tricare health benefit program.

Tricare services 9.6 million active and retired military members and their dependents worldwide, and the Department of Defense says it “relies heavily on civilian providers to supplement the health care provided by military treatment facilities.” But the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other factors, have put a strain on the military healthcare system.

In response, the DOD is issuing a call to expand the numbers of private-practice physicians and other healthcare providers that provide services to Tricare members under contract.

“Expanding Tricare’s network of providers is critical to the care of America’s heroes,” notes the DoD, “and Tricare continues to reach out to state officials, medical associations and individual physicians.”

According to the military, the need for more private health contractors is particularly acute in the Washington, D.C., metro area; North Carolina; southeastern and western New York State and New York City; eastern Missouri; west Texas; Louisiana; southeastern Alabama; western Florida; central and southern Arizona; northwest Oregon and south central Montana.

“More and more civilian doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers are accepting new Tricare patients, but access to providers still remains a concern in some locations,” noted Tricare administrators in a statement. That finding comes from the annual DoD survey of Physician Acceptance of Tricare Standard, the agency reported.

Participation in the Tricare program could mean “a large number of potential patients, according to the military. The military health program, added the DoD, “is also an industry leader in claims payment timeliness. Ninety-nine percent of clean claims are processed within 30 days. Ninety percent of claims are processed within 15 days. 

“More and more civilian doctors, hospitals and other health care providers are accepting new Tricare patients, but access to providers still remains a concern in some locations,” added Tricare administrators in a statement. That finding comes from the annual DoD survey of Physician Acceptance of Tricare Standard, the agency reports.

Retail pharmacies, for their part, already serve some Tricare beneficiaries under free-choice provisions of military spending bills approved by Congress. The DoD’s call for greater participation in the program could spur increased reliance on those off-base, community pharmacies, particularly for those pharmacy operators that provide expanded clinical and medication therapy management services.

“More than two million Tricare beneficiaries use Tricare Standard, the fee-for-service option that provides the most flexibility for patients to see any Tricare-authorized provider,” the DoD notes.

More information on becoming a Tricare authorized provider can be found at a government website, Tricare.mil/tma/providerinformation.

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