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Military Spouses & Dependents

TRICARE Young Adult Offers Affordable Coverage Until Age 26

By Sheila McCarty, AAFMAA Member Benefits Representative

Military dependents do not necessarily age out of TRICARE when they turn 21. If they’re enrolled in college full-time and the military sponsor provides at least 50% of the financial support, they are able to keep their coverage until age 23.  After that, there is the option of TRICARE Young Adult.

TRICARE Young Adult is available to those who meet the following criteria:

  • They are between the ages of 21 and 26 (coverage ends on their 26th birthday).
  • They are not eligible for employer-sponsored health care.
  • They are not eligible for other TRICARE coverage.
  • They are unmarried.
  • They are the child of a TRICARE-eligible uniformed service sponsor.

It’s important to apply within 2 months of needing coverage, as coverage begins on the first of the month and applications take approximately one month to process. Coverage begins when regular TRICARE coverage ends at age 21, or up to age 23 if enrolled in college.

There are two coverage options: TYA Prime and TYA Select. It includes medical and prescription drug coverage, but it does not include dental benefits.

Cost depends on the following factors:

  • Selecting TYA Prime or TYA Select. 
  • Where they receive their care.
  • Military status of the sponsoring parent.

Coverage can be purchased within 60 days of the loss of TRICARE eligibility.

Sample comparison showed these approximate premiums:

  • Young Adult Prime Plan: $375 a month
  • Young Adult Select Plan: $228 a month
  • Continued Health Care Benefit Plan: $517 a month

There is another option for transitioning young adults called the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP).  This premium-based plan:

  • Gives you temporary health coverage for 18 to 36 months when you lose eligibility for TRICARE. 
  • Acts as a bridge between military health benefits and your new civilian health plan.
  • Provides the same coverage as TRICARE Select, including prescriptions.
  • Give you minimum essential health care coverage that meets the required Affordable Care Act, but is temporary.
  • This program has a high cost and can be more expensive than TRICARE Young Adult.