TRICARE, the health care program designed for uniformed service members who are active duty or retired members of the military, and their families around the world, took a huge leap in progressive health care by removing the yearly limits for behavioral health care services; as communicated to recipients in an email sent out earlier yesterday in the TRICARE North Region.
Previously, there was a yearly limit of 30 days for adults and 45 days for children for inpatient health services, and 150 days for care at a residential treatment facility. Now, regardless of length or quality of care, it is covered as long as it is deemed a medical or psychological necessity. Prior authorization is required for non-emergency admissions.
A number of service members return from the battlefields abroad suffering from a variety of mental health issues such as P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, as well
as a host of anxiety disorders including hypervigilance and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Often, family members, who are left behind while loved ones are deployed to the many dangerous areas of the world, may suffer from separation related mental health issues. Things like trying to communicate while in different time zones can even contribute to a lack of sleep, which in and of itself is problematic, but can also exacerbate other behavioral health issues. Many times, the return of a soldier from deployment can throw a family into turmoil. After what could be years, for some, of living in a very regulated and structured environment, the service member faces the challenge of trying to reacclimate to being home and dealing with the pressures of daily life. As they have difficulty trying to find where they fit in the household, the family, who had to learn how to function without them, must try to adjust to having a virtual stranger living with them. In some cases, the service member may be an actual stranger, as some children are born while soldiers are deployed, or were too young to remember them, and have spent the first few years of their life without knowing them at all.
These changes in accessibility could transform how many other insurance providers deal with mental health care. It may also, hopefully, alleviate some of the shame that has historically been associated with reaching out for mental health services, now that the services will be more readily available. In addition, the process is now less likely to be a discouraging one that terminates just as a patient starts to adjust to receiving care.