TRICARE: The Military's Health Care Program

A service member looking at the TRICARE website on a computer monitor

TRICARE is the Department of Defense's health care program for active-duty service members, retirees, eligible National Guard and reserve members and their families. TRICARE, the military's health care program, is one of your most valuable military benefits, and it's important to understand your options for TRICARE to take full advantage of the benefit.

Eligibility and enrollment


contact information for your installation personnel office through MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.

TRICARE manages the program, and the service branches determine eligibility. Generally, eligibility is as follows:

  • Active-duty service member
  • Activated National Guard and reserve member
  • Retiree
  • Spouse of any of the above
  • Unmarried children of any of the above (including stepchildren) younger than 21 years old (or 23 if attending school full time)

The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System validates your eligibility for TRICARE. While active-duty members and retirees are automatically enrolled in DEERS, family members must be enrolled in the system to receive care. More information is available on the TRICARE DEERS website.

Service options

Just like civilian health care plans, TRICARE provides a variety of options based on where you live and preferred type of care.

  • TRICARE Prime. TRICARE Prime offers the most affordable and comprehensive coverage to beneficiaries living in a Prime service area. A military treatment facility is often the primary source of medical care.
  • TRICARE Prime Remote. Active-duty service members and their families receive TRICARE Prime services when the service member lives and works at least 50 miles from a military treatment facility.
  • TRICARE Standard. This fee-for-service plan is available to family members and retirees and offers the most flexibility of any TRICARE option. Deductibles and cost shares are typically higher.
  • TRICARE Extra. An option for TRICARE Standard beneficiaries, TRICARE Extra lets you choose providers within the TRICARE network, where available, and receive discounted cost shares.
  • TRICARE Reserve Select. National Guard and reserve members not on active duty for 30 days or more may be eligible for TRICARE Reserve Select.
  • U.S. Family Health Plan. The USFHP covers individuals who live in six specific regions of the country. You can enroll any time, and you must agree to receive care only at a USFHP facility (unless referred to another facility by a USFHP provider).

Special programs


more about TRICARE eligibility through the TRICARE DEERS website.

Along with standard health care, TRICARE also offers dental and pharmacy benefits, and the Extended Health Care Option for individuals with a qualifying disability.

  • Dental benefits. The TRICARE Dental Program provides care for active-duty family members, retirees, and National Guard and reserve members and their families.
  • Pharmacy. All TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries receive TRICARE's pharmacy benefit, which fills prescriptions at military treatment facilities, through TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery (a mail order pharmacy), through TRICARE's network of retail pharmacies or through a non-network retail pharmacy.
  • Extended Care Health Option. TRICARE ECHO is a supplemental program providing financial assistance to eligible active-duty family members who have a qualifying mental or physical disability.

Contact your personnel office today to learn more about the options under TRICARE. Make sure you and your family receive the TRICARE benefits that best meet your needs.


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