Welcoming a child into the world is often one of the greatest joys in life. As a proud father of four children, I know that when you hold your child for the first time, TRICARE enrollment is not in the forefront of your mind. Fortunately, you have a window of time before TRICARE requires you to sign up your newborn (or newly adopted child), but it’s important to take action to ensure your child’s coverage is not interrupted.
The first step is to register your child in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), the database that records eligibility for TRICARE. Your child will automatically show up as eligible for TRICARE in DEERS for 365 days after birth or adoption. If you haven’t registered your child when that year is up, he or she will be unable to receive TRICARE benefits until registered. Visit www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/overview/Eligibility/DEERS/Children for information on how to register your child in DEERS.
If either you or your spouse is enrolled in TRICARE Prime, then your new child has 60 days of Prime enrollment automatically. To keep your child in TRICARE Prime after the 60 days have passed, you need only enroll them within the 60-day window. If you don’t, their future claims will be processed under TRICARE Standard, which could mean higher costs until you re-enroll them in Prime. Visit www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/overview/Enrollment/Prime for information on how to enroll in TRICARE Prime.
TRICARE covers a number of services that children need soon after they are born. This includes vision and hearing screenings, immunizations, dental care, developmental health evaluations and more. You can view TRICARE well-child care coverage at www.tricare.mil/well-child.
You may even want to schedule your newborn’s first well-child appointment before you bring him or her home from the hospital. Getting the right care early in your baby’s life starts them off on a healthy path.
The days, weeks and months after bringing a new child into your life can be very challenging. TRICARE aims to make this time a little easier by giving you a grace period to enroll your child in DEERS or TRICARE Prime. For more information on TRICARE coverage for your new child, visit www.tricare.mil/well-child.