Whether you are enlisted or an officer, whether to continue your military career through to retirement is a decision you will have to contend with from time to time. Staying put and retiring from the military means you’ll earn a lifetime of benefits, including health care, life insurance, a pension and more. But if you decide to end your service before retirement, you will be responsible for figuring out your next steps on insurance, income, housing and more.
There are programs in place to help separating service members bridge the gap between the end of their service and the start of their next careers. For example, the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) is an optional, premium-based health plan that offers coverage to straddle the period between the end of your military coverage and the start of a new civilian plan. The CHCBP provides coverage from 18 to 36 months after you lose eligibility for TRICARE, with benefits similar to TRICARE Select. Eligible parties must enroll in the CHCBP within 60 days following the loss of military health care coverage.
Who Is Eligible for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program?
Eligibility for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program is open to service members with separations categorized as honorable or general.
Those who were using either TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS), TRICARE Retired Reserve (TRR) or TRICARE Young Adult must have purchased their plan and had it in place at least one day before losing eligibility in order to qualify for CHCBP.
Here is a list of service members and family members who qualify for CHCBP, qualifying scenarios, and eligibility for coverage:
|Former Category||Scenario||Length of Coverage|
|Active Duty Service Member||Released from active duty||Up to 18 months|
|Full-time National Guard Member||Separated from full-time status||Up to 18 months|
|Member covered by the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP)||Loss of TAMP coverage||Up to 18 months|
|Selected Reserve member covered by TRS||Loss of TRS coverage||Up to 18 months|
|Retired Reserve member covered by TRR||Loss of TRR coverage (before age 60)||Up to 18 months|
|Dependent spouse or child||Loss of TRICARE coverage||Up to 36 months|
|Unremarried former spouse||Loss of TRICARE coverage||Up to 36 months*|
*Unremarried former spouses may qualify for additional coverage. Please check with Humana Military for details.
Who Is the CHCBP Contractor?
Humana Military is the contractor for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program, providing services for enrollment, authorization, claims processing and customer service. CHCBP is not a TRICARE program, but the coverage offered by Humana Military is comparable to TRICARE Select Group-B, with similar benefits, providers and program rules.
Advantages of the Continued Health Care Benefit Program
Enrollment in the Continued Health Care Benefit Program brings the security of continuous health care coverage while you transition to your next career and new civilian health plan, but the program has other highlights:
- The program uses TRICARE providers and follows most of the rules and procedures of the TRICARE Select program.
- Once purchased, the CHCBP may entitle service members and/or their family members to coverage for preexisting conditions often not covered by a new employer’s benefit plan.
Costs of the CHCBP
The Continued Health Care Benefit Program offers two types of coverage plans and prices: individual or family. Coverage for either plan must be purchased in 90-day increments.
The cost for an individual premium is $1,654 per quarter (90 days). The individual coverage option is available to a former service member, a former spouse who has not remarried, or an adult child.
The cost for the family coverage premium is $4,079 per quarter (90 days) and is available to former service members and their dependents. Dependents cannot sign up for CHCBP unless the sponsor (former service member) enrolls.
Regardless of your coverage plan, when you receive medical care under the CHCBP, you will be responsible for paying an annual deductible and cost-shares for treatment. Amounts are based on the sponsor’s status at the time of enrollment and the type of provider seen.
Can I Get a Refund for the CHCBP?
There are two conditions that would allow for a full or partial refund of a paid premium for CHCBP coverage.
The first condition allows a refund to be issued if you no longer qualify for the CHCBP coverage. The amount due will be prorated from the date of loss of the qualification for CHCBP benefits to the last day of the enrollment period for which the premium was paid.
The second condition, if met, would allow for a full refund. If Humana Military, CHCBP’s coverage provider, receives a written refund request before the effective start date of your CHCBP coverage, the prepaid premium will be refunded in full.
How to Enroll in the Continued Health Care Benefit Program
Enrollment in the Continued Health Care Benefit Program involves a few steps, including an application and payment in advance for coverage. Qualified sponsors will be notified by the uniformed services or the Defense Manpower Data Center when you are eligible.
To enroll, you must submit:
- A completed CHCBP enrollment application, DD Form 2837.
- Payment in full for the first 90 days of coverage. Note that CHCBP must be purchased within 60 days of qualifying for the coverage.
- A Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, DD Form 214 (if applicable).
- Former spouses who have not remarried must also submit a copy of the final divorce decree, dissolution or annulment.
- Children aging out of TYA coverage must include a copy of their military ID card. A child who is losing TRICARE coverage due to marriage must include a copy of the marriage license with the application.
Renewing CHCBP Coverage
If you wish to extend your coverage to an additional 90-day period, you will need to renew your current CHCBP coverage. Again, CHCBP coverage is purchased in 90-day increments until you decline further coverage or your eligibility expires (see chart above). Premiums are billed quarterly, and you will receive a renewal notice 30 days prior to the expiration of your current quarterly coverage period.
It is important to note that payments postmarked later than 30 days after the last date of coverage will result in the termination of CHCBP benefits and permanent loss of qualification to purchase the coverage.
Finding Care with the CHCBP
Finding and receiving care from an eligible provider while you’re enrolled in the Continued Health Care Benefit Program should feel familiar to anyone coming from a TRICARE health plan.
Opting to receive care from a TRICARE-authorized provider gives those covered under the CHCBP two options: seeing a TRICARE network provider or a non-network participating provider.
- Network providers: TRICARE network providers accept TRICARE’s payment as a full payment for any CHCBP covered health care services you receive, minus any cost-shares and your deductible. This provider will file a claim with TRICARE on your behalf.
- Non-network participating providers: Providers who participate in TRICARE who accept TRICARE’s payment as full payment for any health care services you receive, minus any cost-shares and your deductible. These providers will file TRICARE claims on your behalf on a case-by-case basis.
CHCBP coverage means you could also elect to receive from a non-network nonparticipating provider. In this case, you may have to pay this provider up front and file your own claim with TRICARE for reimbursement. Nonparticipating providers will not TRICARE’s payment as full payment for covered services, and may also charge up to 15 percent above charges allowed by TRICARE. As the beneficiary, you will be responsible for paying any additional patient costs as well as filing a claim when using a nonparticipating provider.
About The Author
Craig Richardson is a military veteran who started his journalism career while serving in the Navy. Following overseas deployments to the Med and Middle East, including service in Operation Desert Storm, he left for the private sector but continued with journalism. He has worked for several publishers and news organizations over nearly 30 years and continued to cover stories with ties to veterans and military affairs throughout his career.
- Froeba, K. (2022, February 4) What you need to know about continuing Tricare coverage before you retire. Retrieved from https://www.militarytimes.com/education-transition/2022/02/04/what-you-need-to-know-about-continuing-tricare-coverage-before-you-retire/
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