The Doctor Is In

TRICARE health news, straight from the desk of Brig. Gen. W. Bryan Gamble, M.D.

Graduate to TRICARE Young Adult

May 01, 2012


Every spring, thousands of young people graduate from college and start lives on their own as independent young adults. Many come from military families and had TRICARE coverage their entire lives.

For most of these dependent children, TRICARE coverage ends at age 21 (or 23, if they’re enrolled in college full-time). Unfortunately, in our current uncertain economic times, many young people don’t find a job with health insurance immediately after leaving home or college. For these dependents, TRICARE now offers a few extra years of health coverage during a critical time.

TRICARE Young Adult (TYA) is a new program that allows young adults to continue TRICARE coverage until they turn 26. The two options available are TYA Standard and TYA Prime. TYA Standard offers the TRICARE Standard coverage and TYA Prime gets you the TRICARE Prime coverage. With the Standard option, it allows you to visit any TRICARE network provider without a referral, but with less access to military treatment facilities (MTF) care. The Prime option requires you to have a primary care manager who coordinates your care, and Prime beneficiaries have greater access to MTFs. You can compare the two plans side by side and pick which one is right for you at

TYA coverage is premium based, which means you pay a monthly fee for the coverage. In 2012, the costs are $176 per month for TYA Standard and $201 per month for TYA Prime. TYA premiums are set each year, and must cover the full cost of the benefit. TYA is only available if you are unmarried and are not eligible for health coverage through your employer.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that nearly 27 percent of Americans aged 18-24 did not have health insurance. People in this age group may feel invulnerable, but the reality is they can still become seriously ill or injured despite their youth. Others enter this age range already suffering from a chronic illness. TYA is designed to ensure our young people continue to have the care they need during this time of their lives.

As the father of several young adults myself who signed up one of them for TYA just last month, I can tell you as a parent and beneficiary that it is a quick, easy, and painless process. As a physician, I know how important continuity of health coverage is after you age out of TRICARE. To see if TYA coverage is right for you, or for a loved one, visit

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