News: TRICARE Service Centers close nationwide
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - The TRICARE Service Centers at five locations on Oahu will be closing April 1, 2014.
The centers will join more than 180 closing nationwide, with open
centers remaining only in TRICARE’s overseas clinics.
With the upcoming closures, the Naval Health Clinic Hawaii Kaneohe
Bay and Makalapa branches, Tripler Army Medical Center, Schofield
Barracks and the 15th Medical Group clinic at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, will no longer be offering walk-in TRICARE services.
According to its website, TRICARE is a worldwide program providing
health care to approximately 9.6 million active duty, dependents,
guardsmen, reservists, retirees and survivors of service members.
An announcement from Naval Health Clinic Hawaii stated centers
would be closing to “[keep] up with the rapidly increasing number of
TRICARE beneficiaries who most often turn to a laptop or cell phone when they have questions.”
On its website, TRICARE officials stated that closing the centers would save an “estimated $250 million over the next five years, letting us invest in the services you want instead of those you don’t use.”
According to Susan Schultz, the public affairs officer for NHCH,
beneficiaries currently use the TSC for various services including obtaining general information about TRICARE, registering or changing a primary care manager or learning about the various benefit packages TRICARE offers.
“TRICARE Service Centers have been in operation since the mid 1990s,” said Cmdr. Traci Brooks, director for health services at Naval Health Clinic Hawaii. “As active-duty service members and their families have become more tech savvy, they have grown fond of the convenience and freedom of accessing services online. TRICARE’s online service center can deliver the same services provided in a face-to-face visit, but is accessible any time of day or night.”
The TRICARE website enables plan enrollment, provides downloadable forms, allows benefi ciaries to make appointments, pay bills and get access to prescription information. Beneficiaries can also visit www.tricare.mil/contactus with multiple resources including frequently asked questions, as well as customer service numbers and email addresses.
“TRICARE’s online self-service options will give beneficiaries at Tripler Army Medical greater accessibility to customer service online and over the phone, [24 hours a day, seven days a week],” said Terri Cloud, the chief of TRICARE Operations, in the Managed Care Division of TAMC.
For more information about the closures, visit www.tricare.mil/tsc. Beneficiaries in the TRICARE West Region can call UnitedHealthcare Military and Veterans at Customer Service for beneficiaries and providers at 1-877-988-9378.
According to www.uhcmilitarywest.com, UnitedHealthcare is a contractor with TRICARE and provides services to the TRICARE West Region, which includes Hawaii.