TRICARE Service Centers to ‘Go Virtual’ April 1

By: American Forces Press Service
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FALLS CHURCH, Va., March 24, 2014 - Walk-in service at TRICARE service centers in the United States is ending April 1.

TRICARE officials said the change reflects "the always growing number of TRICARE beneficiaries who most often now turn to a laptop or cell phone when they have questions about their health care."

TRICARE patients have a wide variety of secure, electronic customer service options available through the TRICARE website at http://www.tricare.mil, officials said. The "I want to ..." feature puts everything beneficiaries want to do online right on the website's front page, they added.

"For many years now, TRICARE beneficiaries have been taking advantage of our convenient, 24/7 online customer service options," said Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Richard Thomas, director of the Defense Health Agency's health care operations directorate. "All of the services they received at their local [TRICARE service center] are available either online or through our toll-free call centers in the convenience of their own homes. We are committed to providing the highest level of support to all of our beneficiaries."

With the end of walk-in service on April 1, beneficiaries who want get personal assistance can call their regional health care contractor for enrollment and benefit help, officials said. All health care, pharmacy, dental and claims contact information is located at http://www.tricare.mil/contactus. Beneficiaries can get 24/7 TRICARE benefit information at the TRICARE website, and they can make enrollment, primary care manager and other changes at http://www.tricare.mil/enrollment.

Rather than driving to an installation service center, TRICARE beneficiaries can even combine high-tech with low-tech by downloading health care forms online and sending them through the mail, officials noted.

Pointing out that walk-in service is the most expensive customer-service option, officials said eliminating walk-in service at the centers will save the Defense Department an estimated $250 million over five years. The change does not affect TRICARE benefits or health care delivery, they emphasized.