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Reimbursement is the source for all reimbursement rates for the TRICARE program. The information below will assist with determining TRICARE payment or Allowable Charge rates for TRICARE covered benefits determined by the TRICARE Policy and Reimbursement Manuals. The maximum amount that TRICARE can pay a provider for a procedure or service is known as the TRICARE allowable charge. The TRICARE allowable charge is tied by law to Medicare's allowable charge whenever practical and may vary based on the prevailing rate in a given location.


TRICARE For Life (TFL) is a benefit available to retired U.S. Military and their families. It encompasses the processing of all TRICARE claims for services rendered within the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, to individuals who have dual eligibility under both TRICARE and Medicare. Medicare and TFL work together to minimize the beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses. Claims should be filed to Medicare first as the primary insurance.

There are instances when some health care costs may not be covered by Medicare and/or TFL. See the chart below which breaks down what the TRICARE For Life beneficiary should pay based on how the service is covered (please note that the chart below is the general rule and there are exceptions).


 How the service is covered

What the beneficiary pays

By both Medicare and TRICARE For Life    

*Medicare pays first

*TRICARE For Life pays the remaining balance

*The beneficiary pays nothing

By TRICARE For Life but not Medicare    

*TRICARE For Life pays first

*Medicare pays nothing

*The beneficiary pays the TRICARE For Life calendar year deductible and cost shares

By Medicare but not TRICARE For Life    

* Medicare pays first

*TRICARE For Life pays nothing

*The beneficiary pays the Medicare deductible and coinsurance

Not covered by Medicare or TRICARE For Life    

* Medicare pays nothing

*TRICARE For Life pays nothing

*The beneficiary pays the entire bill


Coordinating TRICARE For Life with Other Health Insurance besides Medicare

How Medicare coordinates with Other Health Insurance (OHI) depends on whether or not the OHI is based on current employment. In either case, TRICARE For Life (TFL) is the last payer. If the beneficiary has OHI that is not based on their or their family member’s current employment, Medicare pays first, the OHI pays second, and TFL pays last.

What is covered?

TRICARE For Life and Medicare cover proven, medically necessary, and appropriate care. TFL has special rules and limitations for certain types of care, and some types of care are not covered at all. TFL policies are very specific about which services are covered and which are not.

For more information on what specific services are covered please visit TRICARE's what's covered page.

Medicare also has limits on the amount of care it covers and, in some cases TFL may cover these health care services after Medicare benefits run out. To determine if Medicare covers a specific service visit or call 1-800-633-4227.


Common examples of services excluded from TRICARE coverage:

  • Acupuncture

  • Assisted living facility care

  • Chiropractic care

  • Custodial care

  • Elevators or chair lifts

  • Exercise equipment or programs

  • Long-term care

  • Nursing homes

  • Weight loss products

Please view the No Government Pay Procedure Code List to see if a code has been determined by TRICARE to not cover.

See also the TFL Cost Matrix.


Timely Filing Guidelines

Effective February 1st, 2010 all claims must be received in our office no later than one calendar year from the date services were provided. For inpatient services, the claim should be filed no later than one calendar year from the date of discharge.

If a claim is received before the time limit and we request more information from you to process the claim, the requested information is required no later than 90 days from the date of the original request or until the end of the filing deadline (one year from the date of service), whichever is later.

There are some exceptions to the filing deadline requirements. Below you will find the exceptions to the timely filing deadline. You may request a waiver of the timely filing requirements by providing a detailed reason for the delay in filing your claim. Keep in mind that the request for a waiver may be denied if the request does not meet the exception guidelines.

Exceptions to the claim filing deadline may be granted and are as follows:

1)        Retroactive eligibility – Claims should be submitted within 180 days of the date you are notified.

2)        Administrative error on TRICARE’s part.

3)        Mental incompetence – This includes the inability to communicate because of a physical disability. A physician’s attestation statement is required in this case. There must be evidence that no legal guardian was appointed. If a legal guardian was appointed prior to the timely filing deadline, an exception will not be granted. The legal guardian is obligated to file the claim prior to the deadline.

4)        Delay in processing by Other Health Insurance (OHI) – The claims must have been sent to the OHI prior to the TRICARE filing deadline or filed with TRICARE prior to the deadline but returned or denied for OHI information. The documentation should show that the OHI delayed processing of the claim past the TRICARE deadline, and the claim should be filed with TRICARE within 90 days from the process date of the OHI.

There is no time limit for submitting a request for an exception to the claim filing deadline before a claim has been submitted. However, after a claim has been submitted and an exception to the claims filing deadline is granted, TRICARE will only consider benefits for those services or supplies received during the six years immediately preceding the receipt of the request. Services or supplies claimed for more than six years preceding the receipt of the request shall be denied.

For more information, please refer to the TRICARE Operations Manual.

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