An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | July 10, 2012

July 6 - Retiree Activities Corner

By Retiree Activites Offce staff

Tricare, Medicare Dynamic Duo

Tricare and Medicare are separate programs. Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older, as well as for people under age 65 who have qualified for Social Security disability insurance. Tricare For Life (TFL) is the Medicare wrap-around coverage that is available to Medicare-eligible Tricare beneficiaries, provided they have Medicare Parts A and B. There is no paperwork associated with TFL. Beneficiaries automatically gain coverage when they meet the requirements. Beneficiaries must sign up for Medicare as soon as they become eligible to ensure that they continue to get benefits under Tricare. Beneficiaries turning 65 receive reminder letters from the Defense Manpower Data Center. For more information regarding Medicare sign-up, call 800-633-4227 or go to Beneficiaries are ineligible for Tricare benefits for any period of time that they have Medicare Part A but not Part B, with several exceptions. For more information, beneficiaries can go to or talk with their regional health care contractor. Medicare is the primary insurance when a beneficiary turns 65. Tricare acts as the secondary insurance. After Medicare pays its part of the claim, Tricare pays the remaining amount for any Tricare covered services. Medicare approves health care services for payment. If a beneficiary has other health insurance, Medicare forwards the claim to that company and the beneficiary files a paper claim with Tricare. Medicare pays second and Tricare pays last. Medicare does not provide coverage outside of the United States and U.S. territories. Overseas, TFL provides the same coverage as Tricare Standard. Beneficiaries pay up front for services and submit a claim to the overseas claims processor. For questions about Tricare and Medicare coverage, go to or call 866-773-0404.

Surcharge Sustains Commissaries -
When military service members shop at their local commissary, they have the opportunity to save money, while contributing to the improvement of the commissary system. For almost 60 years, Congress has required commissaries to collect a surcharge on purchases to make them more self-sustaining. The surcharge, which has been 5 percent for 29 years, is used to build replacement stores, renovate and repair existing stores, and purchase equipment. Unlike retail stores that mark up their prices to account for operational costs and desired profit, commissaries are required by law to sell at cost. By regularly shopping at the commissary, patrons can expect to save an average of 30 percent compared to commercial stores. The surcharge is assessed on the full value of each purchase before coupons are deducted. Coupons are not a discount, but a method of payment. The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families.

Pharmacy Copayments -
Retail pharmacy copayments is another reason beneficiaries should consider using the Home Delivery (mail order) option. Generic formulary drugs at retail pharmacies cost $5 for a 30 day supply. For brand name formulary drugs, the cost is $12 for a 30-day supply. The cost for non-formulary drugs is $25 in both retail and Home Delivery. There is no copayment for a 90-day supply of generic formulary drugs purchased through Home Delivery. Brand name formulary drugs through Home Delivery cost $9 for a 90-day supply. This makes the Home Delivery option the most-economical for both the government and the beneficiary. If you are still using the retail pharmacy, think about alternative options. Call 877-363-1303, or go to for assistance.

The Retiree Activities Office is open from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Visit our office at Colorado and D Street, call us at 301-981-2726, or email us at Calling the office prior to visiting is recommended to ensure someone is on duty. The RAO also has a website at, click on "Retirees" on the right side of the page. There you will find a wealth of information that might be of interest to you. Copies of "Retiree Activities Corner" articles are online as well. Go to the retirees webpage and find information under the heading "Newspaper Column."