AOA advocates for optometry amid TRICARE’s 2018 changes

TRICARE's sweeping changes will affect doctors of optometry providing care under the military's health insurance program next year, and AOA intervened to ensure a smooth transition with one contractor.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, TRICARE will consolidate from its current three regions-TRICARE North, South and West-into only two regions, TRICARE East and West. This regional realignment effectively ousts one contractor in the West, United Healthcare, and consolidates contractors in the East. Now, Humana Military will administer TRICARE East, while Health Net Federal Services will administer TRICARE West.

However, doctors should be aware that EyeMed, administering Humana's optical network, is amending contracts with some doctors in the new TRICARE East region to create its own TRICARE network. The AOA learned that doctors who signed the EyeMed contract amendment were kicked off Humana's TRICARE network.

The AOA intervened and advocated for EyeMed to acknowledge that doctors can continue to see TRICARE patients under Humana without agreeing to the EyeMed contract agreement. As the TRICARE reform continues into 2018, the AOA will continue to follow any developments.

For care starting Jan. 1, 2018, doctors should review the new TRICARE Network Provider Directory available below:

Overall, this TRICARE regional consolidation means doctors should review their contracts, and in some cases, may need to apply for a new provider network. In TRICARE West, doctors previously under contract with United Healthcare must now apply for the Health Net provider network. In TRICARE East, doctors previously under contract with Humana should still be under contract; however, doctors in this region who previously contracted with Health Net will have Humana take over that contract.

The consolidation represents only one component of key changes, updates and reforms affecting TRICARE on Jan. 1. Moreover, TRICARE coverage plans will be realigned, rolling in parts of TRICARE Standard and Extra into TRICARE Select. These changes also will impact doctors' TRICARE reimbursements.

Visit the TRICARE website for resources and a comprehensive list of the changes.