Air Evacs Are Covered When Medically Necessary and Only to the Nearest, Safest Place

By: TRICARE
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Falls Church, Va., February 18, 2015 - Following retirement from active service, many retirees and retiree family members decide to travel or live overseas. If they do, it is important they understand that if they need air ambulance services (aeromedical evacuation or "air evac"), TRICARE only pays if the transport is medically necessary and to the closest, safest location for medical care.

Retirees overseas have to pay for the service upfront and then file a claim for reimbursement. TRICARE won't cover the cost for non-medically necessary air evacuation and won't move a patient to a location of their choosing. TRICARE won't pay to move a retiree or retiree family member from overseas back to the U.S., unless the medically necessary care is not available in their current location or the U.S is the closest location that can provide the necessary care. If retirees want to return to the U.S. from overseas for personal reasons (e.g., to be closer to family), they pay the air ambulance company and TRICARE won't reimburse them. Air ambulance service can be very expensive. If you are planning to live or travel overseas, you may wish to consider other options for coverage of air transport for circumstances not covered by TRICARE.

Active-duty family members (ADFMs) using TRICARE Standard should also consider health care costs before opting for air evacuation. ADFMs using TRICARE Standard may have to pay up front for the air evacuation; the evacuation must be medically necessary; and must be to the nearest facility capable of providing the needed care in order for TRICARE to cost-share on the aeromedical evacuation.

For more information about receiving care overseas, visit the TRICARE Overseas Program page on the web.