I grew up on Navy bases like NASJAX and NASNI with major military hospitals nearby, so when we were sick or needed medical care, we just went to see military docs and walked out. There was no copay, no coordination of benefits, no preferred provider network, no specialist referrals. There were long waits and you never saw the same doctor twice, but there were usually some pretty cute male nurses to stare at. To this day I remember the orange plastic seats in the waiting halls … the kind that are bolted to the wall. Heck, even my braces were put on by Army dentists the year my Dad was stationed at the War College. I had absolutely no concept growing up that people actually paid for medical services.
But now, there’s TriCare. So, Husband gets converted to active duty and informs me that we will be switched to TriCare and I say, “Yaaay! What’s TriCare?” This is the part where I failed to pay attention in the family readiness seminar that happened last year, long before I knew Husband was being mobilized. I was just there to be a good XO’s wife. Nobody said I had to pay attention, for crying out loud. It had to be something like the old Champus, right? Piece of cake. I’ll just go online, look it up, read the manual … all 170 pages. Well, I am a lawyer afterall. I can do this. I read mundane crap for a living.
Right off the bat I can see that I am in a “remote location” so I get special coverage requiring special permissions to do special things. Who knew the 30th most populous city in the U.S. was a remote location? Okay, so that’s fine. I’ll just need to do a quick little review of this 170-page manual and the “special” addendum for remote locations.
Since I need to get my eyes checked, I will focus my search on that as I review. Here we are – scans! Mmmmm, nope, nothing about eye checkups. On the other hand, it appears I can get a CAT scan, allergy testing scan, physical therapy, and any required cast(s). It doesn’t specifically say I have to be injured to get any of these things, but it looks as if I’m covered for them should I want them. Just checking, but there’s not really anything about scabies in here. Also, I’m perplexed about why casts would fall under the “scans” category. I guess you could get a particularly clumsy scanner-tech-person. But hey, thank goodness I came across it, just in case.
Flipping, flipping, page 45, still looking for optho … ah, there we are. No, that’s ortho something. Or oral something – ah, dentistry! I recognize that. Hey, it says here if you go to the dentist, you can have a tooth removed, but wait, no, that’s only if you’ve been in a car accident. But this is nifty: your dentist can do a procedure if you have ankyloglossia. Yeah, sounds good for a second. But this does not involve buffing and smoothing of the feet while you get your teeth done, as I had hoped. It actually means if you’re tongue tied (i.e. cannot speak or swallow) you can have this procedure-thingy done that involves cutting one’s tongue, or maybe cuting it out. By a dentist? Brings new meaning to getting a tongue lashing. But, oh, wait - it better not be a preventative tongue laceration. Because it says right here that unless I have brain cancer, my preventative care visit to the dentist is not covered at all. Do dentists treat brain cancer? What was I looking for again?
Woah, there it is, the number for the eye doctor! Since the military loves their acronyms, it’s the NOSTRA. Only took me 50 pages to find it. And leave it to the Navy to name an eye doc referral line after something that sounds like the plural of nostril. Brilliant. I need to take a break from reading my computer screen anyway, so I look this term up in the DICNAVAB (Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations). I see that this stands for the Naval Opthalmic Support and Training Activity. Right. Of course. Why didn’t I just look under that in the first place?
Reading on past the phone numbers, there’s this one little section that seems odder still than all the others: the cost for contacts is not covered unless I have lost an eye. Alright! I guess they really should revise that to say “contact,” not “contacts.” Am I right?
Oh, and check it out – Page 58. I can have gastric bypass surgery if I’m 100 lbs over my ideal body weight. The Wii lady says I’m just fine but according to TRICARE I could be a size two for free. Sweeeeeeet, dude.
So, I’m all set. I still can’t see an eye doctor unless I poke one of my eyes out in a car accident on the way to the dentist to get my tongue tied. But seriously, who needs to see clearly when you can be a size two? I’m totally stoked!