Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

DHA increases access to telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic

Medical personnel sitting at desk talking into laptop monitor U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brendt Feldt, a surgeon at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, conducts a virtual health appointment via synchronous video. Innovations in virtual health, particularly telehealth, have been essential to continuing quality care for beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. DHA has made temporary changes to TRICARE regulations to expand telehealth care and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Marcy Sanchez)

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus

Innovations to telehealth are essential to patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Military Health System recognizes the importance of telehealth to prevent in-person spread of the novel coronavirus while still providing quality care to beneficiaries. As a result, the Defense Health Agency is making three temporary revisions to TRICARE regulations regarding telehealth with unprecedented speed.

DHA published an interim final rule in the Federal Register May 12, 2020. The rule invoked temporary changes to how beneficiaries and providers receive and provide telehealth care. These changes to the TRICARE telehealth rules were not Congress-directed. DHA acknowledged the need to make temporary changes to telehealth policy and took action to expand access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes to regulation that require publication to the Federal Register usually take six months to a year to implement. However, DHA sought to expedite the process due to the urgency to continue providing care during the pandemic. DHA recognizes that both beneficiaries and providers may have technical and capacity limitations to the expansive telehealth demand created by both social distancing recommendations and restrictions to person-to-person interactions.

“The speed in which the DHA was able to respond to an identified need of expanding telehealth opportunities and get a rule change published is credit to the dedication of our great staff working tirelessly for our beneficiaries,” said Christopher Priest, deputy assistant director, Health Care Operations, DHA. “These are challenging times, but every day I see colleagues striving to improve how we deliver the TRICARE benefit under unprecedented conditions.”

The agency hopes to implement changes to beneficiaries worldwide in 30-90 days. Once implemented, changes made through the interim final rule will stand as long as the country remains in a state of national emergency, as declared by the president March 13, 2020.

The first change gives beneficiaries access to audio-only telephone visits with their providers. TRICARE will permit audio-only health care visits to improve access to care for beneficiaries that cannot access audio-visual care. Beneficiaries that cannot access audio-visual care due to lack of in-home technology, such as smartphones or computers, or who live in remote areas without the bandwidth for video conferencing, can take advantage of this service.

DHA is also increasing the provider access to care with the second regulatory change: TRICARE will reimburse providers that practice interstate telehealth where permitted by federal or state law, even if the provider is not licensed in the state where they are remoting in. Usually, providers that offer telehealth must be licensed in both the state where they practice and the state where their beneficiaries reside. This requirement will be temporarily modified to allow providers to expand their telehealth reach and still qualify for reimbursement. The rule also applies to providers overseas as long as a provider holds an equivalent license in another nation, and the host nation permits such practice.

The third change temporarily waives cost-shares and copayments for covered, in-network telehealth services. This change doesn’t cover just services related to COVID-19, but all telehealth services inside of the network. DHA hopes that by removing these costs, beneficiaries take advantage of telehealth and reduce exposure of others to TRICARE beneficiaries who may have the novel coronavirus.

Although the new rules are effective May 12, it will take time for all of the changes to be fully implemented. Beneficiaries may still be assessed a copay for telehealth services over the next few months, but adjudicated claims will either be pended or copays may be reimbursed. Some changes may remain in effect beyond the national emergency for overseas locations. DHA will reevaluate telehealth changes in the long term once the threat of COVID-19 diminishes.

DHA remains dedicated to transparency, while working to swiftly to reduce inconvenience for their beneficiaries and providers. Future updates will be posted to Health.mil and TRICARE.mil as they are finalized.

You also may be interested in...

Welcome to TRICARE (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/3/2021

An overview of the TRICARE benefit for service members and their families. The briefing includes details about eligibility and beneficiary categories, program options and enrollment, priority access to military hospitals and clinics, pharmacy and dental program options, transitional coverage, other important information and contact information.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

TRICARE Prime Remote and TRICARE Prime Remote for Active Duty Family Members (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/3/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "TRICARE Prime Remote and TRICARE Prime Remote for Active Duty Family Members".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

TRICARE Prime Remote and TRICARE Prime Remote for Active Duty Family Members (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/3/2021

An overview of the TRICARE programs and services offered to service members and their families in remote locations. The briefing includes information about the Affordable Care Act, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), eligibility, enrollment, primary care managers, TRICARE Young Adult coverage, routine and specialty care coverage, the point-of-service option, types of care, emergency and urgent care, mental health care services, pharmacy and dental program options, and TRICARE self-service options online. Contact information is also included.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

TRICARE Overseas Program Prime Remote (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/3/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "TRICARE Overseas Program Prime Remote".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

TRICARE Overseas Program Prime Remote (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/3/2021

An overview of the TRICARE benefit available to beneficiaries in remote overseas locations. The briefing includes information on what TRICARE is, TRICARE Overseas Program (TOP) Prime Remote coverage, TOP support, eligibility and enrollment, benefit overview, prior authorization, point-of-service option, types of care, getting care while traveling, pharmacy and dental program options, using other health insurance, TOP claims processing and filing, claims reimbursement and direct deposit, filing a grievance, reporting fraud or abuse, and the Affordable Care Act. The briefing also includes online resources and contact information.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Welcome to TRICARE (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/3/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "Welcome to TRICARE".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Using TRICARE and Medicare (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/3/2021

An overview of TRICARE and Medicare for dual-eligible beneficiaries. The briefing includes details about TRICARE, TRICARE and Medicare eligibility, TRICARE For Life, TRICARE program options, and other important information. Contact information is also provided.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Using TRICARE and Medicare (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/3/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "Using TRICARE and Medicare".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Transitioning from Active Duty to Retirement (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/1/2021

An overview of TRICARE options available to active duty service members and their families when transitioning from active duty to retirement. The briefing includes details about preparing for retirement, TRICARE program options, and TRICARE benefit information. Contact information is also provided.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Transitioning from Active Duty to Retirement (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/1/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "Transitioning from Active Duty to Retirement".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Other Important Information (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/1/2021

These additional briefing slides provide extra information for you to add to other TRICARE briefings. The slides include information about enrollment, milConnect, TRICARE.mil, other health insurance, mental health and substance use disorder services, provider types, TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Select, and more.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Active Duty Family Members with Special Needs (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/1/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "Active Duty Family Members with Special Needs".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Active Duty Family Members with Special Needs (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/1/2021

An overview of the TRICARE resources available for beneficiaries with special needs. The briefing includes details about the Exceptional Family Member Program, the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO), costs, getting care, ECHO Home Health Care, ECHO respite care, and contact information.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Separating from Active Duty (Briefing Slides)

Presentation
11/1/2021

An overview of the TRICARE benefit for service members and their families when separating from active duty. The briefing includes information on terminal leave, transitional health care coverage options, the transitional coverage timeline, TRICARE and Medicare, other health insurance, pharmacy and dental program options, and TRICARE self-service options online. Contact information is also included.

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

Separating from Active Duty (Speaker Notes)

Presentation
11/1/2021

Speaker notes to accompany the TRICARE briefing titled, "Separating from Active Duty".

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 3

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.