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In The News

Transitions in Military Health Care, Records Access

2019-10-17

By Jonelle K. Brown, Marketing Coordinator, AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust (AWM&T)

Editor’s Note: TRICARE Open Season begins on Nov. 11 and runs through Dec. 9. Outside of Open Season, beneficiaries can make changes should they experience a Qualifying Life Event or QLE. More information on QLEs is available at https://tricare.mil/LifeEvents/QLE

Since January 1, 2018, military members, their families, and retirees have been able to enroll in TRICARE Select, a self-managed, preferred provider network plan for healthcare that can include dental, vision, and pharmacy plans.

We recently spoke with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) about TRICARE Select and other changes to the Military Health System (MHS), including the upcoming consolidation of all US medical facility operations under DHA and MHS’s new electronic health care delivery and record system.

Here’s what they told us.

JB: What is meant by “comprehensive or integrated health benefit?” Why is that important?

DHA: The TRICARE benefit covers virtually all medically-accepted practices and treatments, while providing unique options. Those who choose TRICARE Select, for example, receive their care from the TRICARE-network providers they pick. Those who select TRICARE Prime will be assigned a primary care manager and may receive most of their care at a military hospital or clinic.

JB: Are more changes planned in 2019 or 2020 to coverage or eligibility?

DHA: While there are no substantive planned changes to the benefit or eligibility, TRICARE Open Season begins November 11. During that time, beneficiaries can enroll in a new TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select plan; change their enrollment status (e.g., from individual to family); or sign up for dental or vision coverage. Beneficiaries must enroll in a plan during open season if they have not done so. If they do not, it will result in eligibility for care only at a military hospital or clinic if space is available.

JB: With DHA operating all military treatment facilities in the United States as of Oct. 1, 2019, what changes can members expect?

DHA: The transition should be transparent to beneficiaries. We do share updates with the public on sites such as Health.mil or you can sign up for email updates at www.health.mil/subscriptions. You can also connect with DHA on Facebook and Twitter.

JB: Can you explain rollout of MHA’s new electronic health record (EHR) system?

DHA: MHS GENESIS is the single, integrated medical and dental EHR. In 2017 MHS went live at four military medical facilities in Washington State, including Madigan Army Medical Center, Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Hospital Oak Harbor, and Naval Hospital Bremerton.

Four more sites in California and Idaho went live on September 7, 2019: David Grant USAF Medical Center (Travis Air Force Base); Naval Health Clinic Lemoore (Naval Air Station Lemoore); U.S. Army Health Clinic Presidio (Monterey); and the 366th Medical Group at Mountain Home Air Force Base (Idaho).

Deployment activities for subsequent waves will kick off approximately every three months starting Spring 2020. The next three waves involve additional facilities in California, Nevada and Alaska. The system should be fully deployed across all military hospitals by the end of 2023.

JB: What advantages does MHS GENESIS offer?

DHA: MHS GENESIS will enable the application of standardized workflows, integrated health care delivery, and data standards for the improved and secure electronic exchange of medical and dental patient data across the continuum of care, from point of injury to the military treatment facility. The system will also allow patients to view their health information online, securely message providers, access test results, and request prescription refills.

Additionally, MHS GENESIS utilizes the same software under development by the Department of Veterans Affairs for that agency’s new electronic health record system, and will be interoperable by default. When fully deployed, information between the two health care systems will be passed securely, conveniently and easily, helping to ensure a warm handoff of service members into the VA system of care.

We’re Here to Help

Like health care, financial plans and options can seem complex. AWM&T can help you sort through your portfolio options to help you plan for a more secure financial future.

Our priority is to help ensure the financial security and independence of the American Armed Forces community by providing military investment management, military financial planning, and military trust services.

We understand that talking about military financial planning can be overwhelming. Whether you know exactly what you want, or need some more guidance, our Relationship Managers are here to help. Call 1-910-390-1047 or click here to request a complimentary Investment Portfolio review. There’s no cost or obligation.

Common Questions

Yes, your AAFMAA policy will cover a death related to COVID-19 if you are an existing AAFMAA Member with a policy issued more than two years ago or prior to a COVID-19 diagnosis, even within the first two years the policy is owned. The only exclusion on AAFMAA policies is death by suicide within the first two years.

However it is important to note that death claims made against an underwritten policy issued within the last two years are contestable, regardless of the cause of death. Contestable death claims are reviewed and subject to denial if we find undisclosed material information that would have changed the outcome of the policy issuance decision.

Yes, if you are applying for a policy that requires medical underwriting, you must disclose a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Not doing so would be considered material misrepresentation and could result in your policy being voided.

As mentioned above, death claims made against an underwritten policy issued within the last two years are contestable, regardless of the cause of death. Additionally, you don’t have to die for a material misrepresentation to void your contract. The policy can be voided at any point within the first two years if AAFMAA finds that you provided incorrect information about your health history and that the correct information would have prevented us from issuing the policy.

If you were diagnosed with having contracted COVID-19 prior to applying for life insurance and you failed to disclose that diagnosis on your application, your death claim could be denied. This is because, if you had disclosed your COVID-19 diagnosis, we would have followed current industry guidelines and possibly postponed acceptance of your application. In this case, your policy would be voided and your survivors would only receive a refund of the premiums you had paid.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine is classified as a typical wellness check, for which we do not require disclosures and do not deny death claims. We strongly suggest that our Members follow CDC recommendations and receive the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are eligible.

Industry guidelines indicate that a COVID-19 diagnosis may postpone acceptance of your application for a period of three weeks to 1 year following recovery, depending on the severity of symptoms and treatment. This timeline is subject to change as new information becomes available and industry guidelines are adjusted accordingly. Those who experience a full recovery may be considered for issue before 12 months, while serious cases (such as those which required a ventilator) may be postponed for longer.

No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination will not affect the acceptance of your application.

No, AAFMAA cannot change your premiums or your health classification on a policy you currently hold. Your premiums and health classification will remain the same, even if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or you are at a higher risk of exposure due to your job, living situation, or recent travel, or if you get one of the COVID-19 vaccinations approved for emergency use by the USFDA.