Does My College Student Still Have Tricare?

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Dear Q&B --

My son is working his way through college, and we had planned for him to stay on our Tricare plan, since he's under age 23.

Instead of working up a ton of a debt, he's going to school part time while also working a few jobs on the side. We're really proud of him.

Since he's paying for school, making sure he has health coverage is the least we can do. But my friend told me he might not be covered by Tricare. True or false?

-- College Mom

College Mom is right to be concerned. Tricare's rule on which dependents can be covered while working through college are very specific, and don't include all college-aged kids.

The rule is actually very simple. Dependents are eligible to stay on their service parent's Tricare coverage until they hit 21. That cutoff is extended to age 23 if the person is a full-time student at an accredited college or university where he or she is working on an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree.

That means part-time students, those working on certificates or attending trade schools, and those working on a Master's Degree or higher do not qualify, no matter how responsible or brilliant they are.

While that may not seem fair, but there is another option. If a dependent doesn't qualify for coverage under their sponsor but has not yet turned 25, parents can pay a monthly fee to purchase a Tricare Young Adult plan.

That plan is available in two forms: Tricare Young Adult Select and Tricare Young Adult Prime. To use the Prime option, the dependent must live near a military treatment facility, also known as a "prime service area." The Tricare Select option costs less per month, but comes with cost shares and deductibles.

Visit Tricare's website to view the most up-to-date monthly fees, which change annually.

-- Do you have a question about your benefits? Email the Military.com Questions and Benefits team at questionsandbenefits@military.com.

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