That’s the message the 9.7 million beneficiaries of the TRICARE insurance plan got from the Defense Department, which announced it will no longer offer live, walk-in service to handle administrative issues as of April 1, when all such queries will be managed online or by phone.
TRICARE insurance carriers operate walk-in centers at 189 military hospitals or clinics. Half of visits to the centers are for in- and out-processing and requests to change primary care providers, and the rest involve billing-related questions.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman said, “The change will not – let me repeat that – will not affect any TRICARE medical benefit or health care service.” On the other hand, the move will cut the cost of running the centers -- currently some $50 million a year. Warren said customers who need the type of assistance they receive at the the walk-in service centers can quickly and efficiently get help online or via phone.
Tricare.mil currently averages about 38,000 hits per day, and officials have run tests to ensure the website and call center can handle the expected increase in volume.
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