Getting Married? Know Your TRICARE Health Care Options
Getting married? Congratulations! You and your family members may experience changes in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select eligibility and coverage after getting married. A change in family composition, such as marriage, is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). QLEs are certain life changes, like getting married, moving, giving birth, adopting a child, or retiring. QLEs may mean different TRICARE health plan options are available to you and your family. A QLE allows you to make changes to your health plan enrollment outside of the fall annual TRICARE Open Season.
QLE and open season enrollment rules apply only to TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select. Premium-based plans (TRICARE Reserve Select, TRICARE Retired Reserve, TRICARE Young Adult, and the Continued Health Care Benefit Program) offer continuous open enrollment throughout the year.
90 Days to Enroll in or Change a Health Plan
Following any QLE, you have 90 days to enroll in a new TRICARE health plan or change your health plan coverage, if you choose. Your new spouse has 90 days from the date of the marriage to enroll in TRICARE, if they choose. Otherwise, they can enroll following another QLE or during open season. A QLE for one family member creates a QLE for all family members. This means any eligible family member can also make an eligible health plan enrollment change within 90 days of the QLE. Stepchildren are also eligible for TRICARE benefits following the marriage and can now enroll within the same 90-day period.
No matter when you initiate the health plan enrollment change following a QLE, coverage starts on the date of the QLE. Your health plan coverage will continue unless you lose eligibility or disenroll from the plan.
Update DEERS with the QLE
Coverage for Spouses
After you get married, register your new spouse in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). This step makes him or her show as TRICARE-eligible. You can go to any ID card office to add your spouse to DEERS. You'll need to bring either originals or certified copies of the following documents:
- Marriage certificate
- Spouse's birth certificate
- Spouse's Social Security card
- Spouse's photo ID
Your spouse's TRICARE health plan options will depend on your military status and your location. Use the TRICARE Plan Finder to see plans you and your new spouse may be eligible for. Keep in mind that different family members may be eligible for different plans.
Coverage for Children
Your children are eligible for TRICARE until age 21 (or 23 if in college). At age 21 or 23, he or she may qualify to purchase TRICARE Young Adult. This includes unmarried biological children, stepchildren, and adopted or court-placed children. Sponsors don't always adopt their stepchildren. The marriage to the stepchild's parent is the QLE that will allow the stepchild to enroll.
To get TRICARE coverage for your kids, you must first register them in DEERS at your local ID card office. You'll need to show a certificate of birth or adoption and submit DD Form 1172-2. Find the form and other required documents to update DEERS on the TRICARE website. Once registered in DEERS, you may choose a TRICARE plan for your children.
Remember, enrollment is required to participate in a plan. After registering in DEERS and choosing a plan, be sure to follow the steps to enroll your spouse or children in a TRICARE plan. If you have questions, call your regional contractor.
Whether you're engaged to be married or a newly married couple, don't wait to learn about your TRICARE health plan options after marriage. And don't forget about seeing which dental and vision coverage options your new spouse can purchase. Visit Qualifying Life Events to learn more about marriage and other QLEs you might experience in the future. Start your new life by taking command of your health.