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Military's TRICARE for Life program set to begin Oct. 1; leave limit eased in wake of tragedy.

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Date published: 9/24/2001


In truth, said Lillie, physicians don't need to participate in TFL, and patients don't need to rely on a specific network of physicians. Any health-care provider who treats Medicare patients can treat TFL patients. Medicare will pay for its covered services and send the unpaid portion of the bill to the second payer, which is TRICARE. Reimbursement should be a breeze.

"The provider doesn't have to do anything else, or know a thing about TRICARE, to get a check from TRICARE in addition to Medicare," said Lillie.

TRICARE officials hope to educate Medicare providers on the seamless nature of TFL through articles in professional medical journals and newsletters. They also are encouraging beneficiaries to share handouts and TFL information cards with doctors. Finally, physicians with questions are encouraged to call the TFL information center at: 888/DOD-LIFE or 888- 363-5433.

Catastrophic cap. Some retirees mistakenly believe TFL's catastrophic cap of $3,000 sets a ceiling on the amount of medical costs TRICARE will cover for a family in a given year. The reverse is correct; the cap will protect families so they pay no more than $3000 out- of- pocket in case of a medical catastrophe.

ID cards. Some beneficiaries expect a TFL identification card. It won't be coming. To use TFL, they only need to be enrolled in Medicare Part B and to update personal information in DEERS, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

Active-duty members who have been denied leave this month, or have seen their leave cut as a result of U.S military activity after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, will not loose those vacation days.

The Defense Department has lifted a 60-day limit on accrued leave that service members can carry over into the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Leave relief will assist critical personnel who have more than 60 days on the books. They stood to lose those leave days if not used by Oct. 1.

The terrorist attacks prevented some service members from using excess leave this month. They now will be authorized to carry up to 90 days of accumulated leave through Sept. 30, 2002.

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