News: TRICARE ending walk-in admin services
Story by Airman 1st Class Andrea Posey
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. - TRICARE military health plan service centers will end administrative walk-in services in the continental U.S. April 1, 2014, Pentagon officials said.
"This change only affects customer walk-in services," said Stanley McGill, 1st Special Operations Medical and Dental Support Squadron TRICARE and Patient Administrator. "It does not reduce TRICARE benefits or alter health care delivery to beneficiaries."
While the 189 facilities will stop taking walk-ins, beneficiaries can accomplish any administrative task online or by phone, said Army Col. Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman. TRICARE services centers overseas will not be affected.
This change allows the TRICARE department to save $250 million over the next five years, allowing TRICARE to invest in more important services, said Warren.
"Walk-in customer service at centers is the most expensive option available for customer service," said McGill.
Fifty percent of the visits to the centers are for in- and out-processing and requests to change primary care providers and the rest involve billing-related questions, officials said. The Department of Defense spends approximately $51 million a year on these services when they could be handled more efficiently by phone or online.
TRICARE gets about 38,000 hits per day on its website. Officials have run tests to ensure the website and call center can handle the expected increase in volume.
"This is being driven by the fact that technology has gotten so much better," Warren said. "The TRICARE service centers have been around since the 1990s, and contractors staff them."
Customers who need the type of assistance being done in these walk-in service centers can quickly and efficiently receive help online or via phone, Warren said.
Beneficiaries can get more information and sign up for updates at http://www.tricare.mil/tsc.