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House Members Ask: Can We Waive Copays On Birth Control With TRICARE?

waive copays tricare

**Update August 4 2023: The following statement is printed on the TRICARE official site: “Starting Jan. 1, 2023, TRICARE will eliminate copayments and cost-shares for anyone who has a TRICARE Prime option or TRICARE Select, and chooses a permanent birth control method.”

What follows is preserved here for archival purposes.

Lawmakers Ask For No Copays On Birth Control

TRICARE has, in the past, required copays when it comes to contraceptives and designated health care visits that are related to screening, counseling, insertion, removal, or maintenance of FDA-approved contraceptive devices.

On January 20, 2022, 141 House members wrote a letter to press Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to waive these copays. This was led by the Democratic Women’s Caucus and supported by:

  • National Women’s Law Center
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • Physicians for Reproductive Health
  • Power to Decide
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • SWAN

The Goal: TRICARE Beneficiaries to Have Same Benefits as ACA

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees employer-sponsored and marketplace health plans already cover these benefits without cost-sharing. Many feel TRICARE beneficiaries should be given the same benefits. 

The members stated, “Access to contraception and the ability to determine if and when to have children are inextricably tied to one’s health and well-being, equality, financial security, and control over one’s life. Prioritizing access to contraception for servicemembers and their dependents is an investment in their health and well-being and an investment in the stability of our Armed Forces.”

In the letter, it was mentioned that the House of Representatives has repeatedly demonstrated support for ensuring all TRICARE beneficiaries are not subject to copays for conception. Because of the current law, copays for birth control prescriptions can’t be waived at places other than a military pharmacy, but they can be for appointments.

TRICARE Select Military Family Members or Retirees Subject to Copays

Military family members or retirees enrolled in TRICARE Select were subject to these copays and paid out of pocket for counseling and other contraceptive-related appointments. Retirees and family members enrolled in TRICARE Prime also have copays when performed by a TRICARE-authorized provider. 

Military Families Often Feel Like They Do Not Have Control

In the letter, members also mention access to contraception and being able to determine when and if to have children. The letter writers note this is tied to health and well-being as well as equality, financial security, and control over one’s life. Military families often feel like they do not have control, but this is an area of life they should be able to control. 

While the copays might not be too expensive, even a small cost can cause people to forgo treatment or sessions. By waiving the co-pay fees, not only does this put TRICARE on par with other insurance companies but would allow more military members and families to use the benefit which is a huge plus to the military community. 

You can read the text of the letter here.