Skip to main content

Military Health System

Delivering Readiness: The Evolution of TRICARE

Image of A picture of a laptop. TRICARE benefits have continued to evolve, but the mission of ‘delivering exceptional medical and dental care to eligible beneficiaries and their families’ remains (Courtesy photo).

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Information for Providers | TRICARE 101 | TRICARE Health Plan

Ever wonder about the people behind the curtain at TRICARE? Maybe you imagine policy gurus or bureaucrats with little connection to military service. If so, you may be surprised to learn that’s not true. The halls of the Defense Health Agency Headquarters are filled with men and women in uniform, military retirees, dedicated civil servants, and contractors. They understand and care about the mission and the people they serve.

While the TRICARE benefit is always evolving, the mission never does. From day one, the mission is to deliver exceptional medical and dental care to eligible beneficiaries and their families.

Mark Ellis, chief of the Policy and Programs section of the TRICARE Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency, understands this contrast between evolving while staying true to an unwavering mission. In fact, he lives it.

In 1976, Ellis enlisted in the Air Force Medical Service. Throughout his military career, he served in a variety of roles. He worked in hospitals as a medical support person and on aircrafts as an aerial refueling specialist during the Cold War. He rose through the ranks, earning a commission in the Air Force Medical Service Corps. TRICARE came into existence during his time in the medical service.

After almost 23 years of active military service, he retired in August 2001, days before 9/11. As a contractor working for TRICARE on that day, he stood at his office window. He watched the smoke billowing from the Pentagon with renewed resolve. Years later, Ellis became a civil servant, culminating with his current role as chief of the Policy and Programs section.

"My military service informs what I bring to policymaking at TRICARE," said Ellis. "We still do what we've always done - support the Medically Ready Force, Ready Medical Force. We deliver a high-quality medical and dental benefit to eligible beneficiaries and their family members."

During his long career with the Military Health System (MHS), Ellis witnessed the evolution of the military medical benefit from the basic CHAMPUS program to the TRICARE triple option (Prime, Standard, and Extra). He also served throughout the creation of new TRICARE programs, like TRICARE Reserve Select TRICARE Retired Reserve. These two health plans provide TRICARE coverage for Reserve Component members and their families. He led the MHS's efforts to implement the TRICARE Young Adult plan. And he led the recent transition from TRICARE Standard and TRICARE Extra to TRICARE SelectTRICARE Select is a self-managed, preferred provider network plan. TRICARE Select is a fee-for-service option in the United States that allows you to get care from any TRICARE-authorized provider.  Enrollment is required to participate.TRICARE Select coverage.

But Ellis regards the creation of TRICARE For Life (TFL) in 2001, TRICARE's Medicare wraparound coverage, as the key TRICARE transformation during his career.

"Before TFL, military retirees lost all TRICARE coverage when they became entitled to Medicare due to age or disability," said Ellis. "Under TFL, you pay your Medicare Part B premiums, as most Americans must do. Then TFL provides the full TRICARE plan and pharmacy coverage as your free Medicare-wraparound coverage, without premiums or enrollment fees. Personally, my wife and I are more than happy to pay our Medicare Part B premium as TFL provides such a rich benefit."

Ellis also worked to develop TRICARE Open Season. Open season is the annual period each fall when you can change or enroll in a health plan. During the enrollment period, you can adjust your health coverage for the upcoming year.

For example, you may decide you value having a choice of provider. You understand your out-of-pocket costs and decide TRICARE Select will serve you best. If you want a primary care manager to oversee your care, TRICARE Prime may be the option for you.

"These options help you take command of your health by choosing the TRICARE plan that best meets your family's health care needs," said Ellis.

Choices help you take charge of your own health benefit. Beyond plan options, TRICARE also offers unparalleled savings.

"Compared to the Affordable Care Act and the average out-of-pocket costs for commercial health plans, TRICARE offers incredible value," said Ellis. "There's no comparison to civilian plans, even when you adjust for the sacrifices that military families make. Congress provides - and the Military Health System delivers - an attractive health care benefit under the TRICARE program."

Highly regulated, ever-changing, and overseen by people who understand they serve those who serve. Those people understand the value of the benefit. They believe in its evolution.

"What a transformation that I've seen since the 70s," said Ellis, who retires from civil service next month. "From 1976 to today, I've seen nothing but change. And I know for sure that TRICARE will continue to evolve to support readiness and deliver an unparalleled health care benefit for those who serve and have served, and their family members."

You also may be interested in...

Poster: The Game of Life

Publication
3/9/2022

Display this poster in your facility to educate beneficiaries about TRICARE's qualifying life events which could trigger a change in your TRICARE coverage.

Recommended Content:

Qualifying Life Events | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Communication to ABA Providers Regarding Continued Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 During the COVID-19 National Emergency

Publication
6/3/2020

TRICARE is announcing the continuation of the temporary exception to policy regarding the use of synchronous telehealth (TH) capabilities (both audio and video) for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Family Adaptive Behavior Treatment Guidance services specifically during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Benefits Eligibility for 32 USC 502(f) Missions

Publication
4/14/2020

A chart outlining the various Benefits Eligibility for 32 USC 502(f) Missions

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Decision Memorandum on TRICARE Implementation of the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act"

Publication
4/7/2020

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Public Law 116-127, Division F, Section 6006(a), limits TRICARE authority to impose copayment or other cost-sharing for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and related provider visits that result in orders for or administration of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, cleared, or authorized diagnostic products. In order for the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to implement, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD(HA)) must acknowledge the self-executing authority of the statute and direct the Director, DHA, or designee, to issue guidance implementing the statutory provisions.

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Tiered Telehealth Health Care Support for COVID-19

Publication
3/31/2020

This memorandum establishes guidance for the use of Telehealth (TH) Information Technology (IT) tools in support of the clinical care required for patients across the spectrum of COVID-19 illness

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Public Health | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Pharmacy Guidance for Market MTFs

Publication
3/31/2020

Message to Pharmacy Beneficiaries regarding military pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | TRICARE Pharmacy Operations | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Q & A: Policy Exception for Telehealth Use for ABA during COVID-19 Pandemic

Publication
3/30/2020

Question and Answer: TRICARE Autism Care Demonstration (ACD): Regarding Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 during the COVID-19 National Emergency

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

Policy Exception for Telehealth Use for ABA during COVID-19 Pandemic

Publication
3/30/2020

Communication to ABA Providers Regarding Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 During the COVID-19 National Emergency

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Information for Patients: About TRICARE

3D Mammography Toolkit

Publication
12/19/2019

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Women's Health

Talking_Points_3D_Mammography

Publication
12/16/2019

These talking points share information about 3-D mammography

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Women's Health

3D Mammography Infographic 2

Publication
12/16/2019

Share this infographic to spread the word about 3-D Mammography coverage

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Women's Health

3D Mammography Infographic 1

Publication
12/16/2019

Share this infographic to spread the word about 3-D Mammography coverage

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE | Women's Health

Open Season and BWE Issue Annex

Publication
11/23/2019

This Open Season and BWE Issue Annex contains products with additional information about how to enroll during Open Season

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE

FEDVIP Article Open Season II

Publication
10/3/2019

Share this article which provides information about FEDVIP Vision

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE

FEDVIP Vision Infographic 8.5x11

Publication
10/3/2019

Share this infographic to spread information about FEDVIP Vision enrollment options

Recommended Content:

Information for Patients: About TRICARE
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: January 24, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery