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'Dear Tricare:' A Sordid Love Letter

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dear tricare
Nurse care coordinators brief the medical commander about virtual health care projects at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. (U.S. Army/Jason W. Edwards)

Updated: 12/14/2020

Dear Tricare,

Hello, it's me. I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet to go over everything?

Oh, Tricare, my feelings for you are so conflicted. (Hello -- can you hear me?)

We have our highs.

We have our lows.

Many times I've threatened to walk away -- sworn we were done! -- yet, here we are.

I can’t deny that you’ve let me down at time, like a few months ago, when your nurse advice line advised urgent care, and sent me to a nearby urgent care clinic that was closed. Finally, after hours of driving around a child who shook with fever and begged me to help him, you did find us a doctor. But, you lost our urgent care approval paperwork and this ill-fated visit was sent to a collections agency. I’ve spent so many frustrated hours on the phone with you, trying to talk through our problems.

Sometimes I can't tell if you care anymore. Your promises: tease, or truth?

Everybody makes mistakes. However, I need to be able to depend on you without having to keep every base covered all the time to catch the things you let slip; I can't hold your hand every step of the way. Sometimes our relationship seems so tired, worn out and finished. What am I still doing with you?

When I start to walk away, I can't help but remember the amazing times we've had together, times I would have fallen, but you caught me. An unexpected surgery had me worried -- would you be there for me, or would I be selling my house to pay for my child’s medical care?

No, you were right there to be my knight in shining armor! You guided us through our specialist visits, pre-op, post-op, surgery, follow-up care and finally the all-clear. Your movements were perfectly choreographed, with thoughtful phone calls to check in on how we were doing. Where had you been all my life? You swept me off my feet. I never even saw a bill at that time, just records of the magic you were working behind the scenes.

For a while, I thought memories of the good times could take us the distance. Every time I would feel my frustration at lost paperwork or unnecessary hoops to jump through, I would think back. Now, I'm not so sure. Are you still there for me? Will you stand by me? Can I lean on you when I'm unable to stand alone? I don't know anymore.

"Oh, it’s nothing personal," I can almost hear you say. "You know how it is. Bureaucracy. Modern times. Benefits aren't what they used to be. Nothing is!"

But I'm talking about us. And, often I fear your excuses whitewash the truth: If you do a crappy job, so what? Why should you care? Even in these modern times, sometimes I feel like I don't have any good, clear alternatives.

And, yet, I know I should be thankful for the messy relationship we have, because the grass isn’t always greener, am I right? I hear the other insurance companies snore.

A friend and I sat whispering about you recently. Her relationship with her insurance company is new, and expensive. Maybe I've been less than satisfied with you at times, but I didn't realize you were saving me hundreds of dollars each month compared to where I'd be under the Affordable Care Act. I didn't mean to take you for granted, and I'm sorry.

But doesn't it bother you, what we've become? Strained, frustrated, distant? Nobody's perfect, and I don't expect you to be. But, sometimes it seems like your bad qualities outweigh the good ones. Please, oh please -- can't we get back to how we used to be?

Love,

A military spouse.

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