FRA NewsBytes July 24, 2015

Newsbytes 7/24/2015

Newsbytes 7/24/2015

In this issue:
FRA Calls for White House to Honor Fallen Marines, Sailor
Real Estate Research Shows a Need for BAH
TRICARE Coverage Travels with You

FRA Calls for White House to Honor Fallen Marines, Sailor
Many FRA shipmates shared their frustration about the delay in lowering flags at federal facilities following the deaths of four Marines and one sailor killed in Chattanooga, Tenn. In response, FRA issued a “Making Waves” alert asking members to use the FRA Action Center to request the president issue a proclamation to lower the flags at U.S. government facilities to honor these fallen sea service comrades. The Association thanks those who responded to the alert, which was removed from our website when the president issued the proclamation five days after the shooting.

FRA’s service flags at the National Headquarters have been draped and the United States flag outside of the headquarters has been placed at half-staff in honor of the Chattanooga shooting victims. This practice will continue for 30 days, from July 20 through August 20, 2015.

Need for BAH Confirmed by Real Estate Study
Zillow Real Estate Research, a firm that analyzes trends in the real estate markets, recently released a study of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that indicates service members are not receiving enough BAH to put them on a comparable footing with their private sector counterparts. The firm compared spending on rent and mortgage, factoring in total uniformed service compensation (both pay and allowances).

  • When renting a home: The average uniformed service member spends 41.6 percent of his or her income on rent, compared to the average U.S. citizen, who spends 30 percent.
  • When purchasing a home: The average uniformed service member spends 31.5 percent of his or her income on mortgage payments, compared to the average U.S. citizen, who spends 15 percent.

For more information on the study, go to: http://www.zillow.com/research/military-home-values-9656/ and http://www.zillow.com/research/military-affordability-9807/

The obvious conclusion from the research is that this is not the time to be cutting BAH. The House and Senate are currently working to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA-S. 1376/H.R. 1735). The Senate bill would reduce BAH for active duty and mandate awarding BAH only to the higher ranking member of a member-married-to-member couple. (The House version of the NDAA does not make include BAH cuts or reductions in dual-service couples’ allowances.) FRA argues that the cuts in the Senate NDAA will be detrimental to service members and will only create a marriage penalty for service members who marry other service members.

Shipmates are urged to use the FRA Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) to weigh in on this issue and other issues on the pending FY 2016 NDAA. The votes by the Senate and the House are expected as early as next week.
TRICARE Coverage Travels with You
The Defense Health Administration (DHA) wants beneficiaries to know that TRICARE is portable and travels with the beneficiary whether the travel is for business or pleasure.

Beneficiaries should receive all routine care and get prescriptions filled before traveling. Beneficiaries should plan to have enough maintenance medication for the entire trip and be sure to pack medication in carry-on luggage.

With routine care complete, a beneficiary’s only health care concern should be urgent or emergency care. The first line of defense when deciding what kind of care is needed is TRICARE’s Nurse Advice Line (NAL) at 1-800-TRICARE (874-2273). A registered nurse can answer urgent care questions and schedule next-day appointments at military hospitals and clinics if necessary. Best of all, the NAL is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there is no need to worry about availability as you travel between times zones.

In the event of an emergency, seek care at an emergency facility. A TRICARE Prime beneficiary needing emergency care should notify the primary care manager (PCM) or regional contractor within 24 hours or the next business day. If only urgent care is needed, get a referral from the primary care manager or call the NAL to get advice on when and how to seek care for an urgent problem.

Standard beneficiaries can visit any TRICARE-authorized, network or non-network provider; simply call the doctor to schedule an appointment. Referrals are not required, but you may need prior authorization from your regional contractor for some services. If you use a non-network provider, you may have to file your own claim. You may also have to pay up front for your care, so look for a network provider for treatment and save your receipts to file a claim later. Using a network provider exercises the TRICARE Extra option, giving you a five percent cost-share discount.

U.S. Family Health plan participants should call customer service 1-800-748-7347 for care. Be sure to save all of your health care receipts. Beneficiaries enrolled in the U.S. Family Health Plan cannot use the Nurse Advice Line.

TRICARE Overseas Program (TOP) beneficiaries traveling in the United States can call the Nurse Advice Line for health care advice, but if they ultimately seek care from a provider, they will need to call their TOP Regional call center to coordinate care.

TRICARE covers services that are medically necessary and proven safe and effective. For information about your health plan, visit the TRICARE website at www.TRICARE.mil.