Tricare Extends Eligibility to 26

The National Defense Authorization recently signed by the president included provisions that will allow certain Tricare dependents to purchase Tricare coverage that can cover them until they turn 26 years old.  Under the old rules, all Tricare eligibility ended at age 21, or 23 for full-time college students.  This new program, called Tricare Young Adult (TYA) will be available to unmarried young adults who are not eligible to be covered under their own employer-sponsored coverage.

As this bill has just recently been passed, the details have not yet been worked out.  Tricare is hoping to have the program fully operational by spring.  Cost-shares, deductibles, and catastrophic caps will be determined based upon the level of coverage selected and the sponsor’s status.  Tricare is still determining the premium cost, but unofficial estimates are running in the $100 to $200 per month range.  In its initial phases, only Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra will be available.  A Tricare Prime option is expected to be offered in the future.

In the meantime, if you have a child who is not currently covered by Tricare but is under the age of 26, please save receipts for all care after 1 January 2011.  If your child decides to enroll in this premium-based coverage, you will be able to claim reimbursement for these expenses as long as you purchase the insurance retroactive to 1 January 2011.

This is good benefit and I hope that lots of people are able to use it.  Yes, it is not going to be free or even cheap, but it will be considerably less expensive than individual health coverage.

For more information, see the Tricare Young Adult Program webpage.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Erin Morgan

    Sad. Blue Cross is covering my friend’s daughters pregnancy and delivery at 21 and our tricare will not cover my 23 year old college student. This is ludicrous.

    • Kate

      Mrs. Morgan, I believe you have been misinformed. To the best of my knowledge, Tricare Young Adult coverage (the only Tricare coverage available to 23 year olds) covers all maternity care. The baby will not be covered under Tricare as it is not an eligible beneficiary. You can find more information at the Tricare website,, or at this fact sheet:…. While it is a few years old, the facts have not changed.