Updated: 29 February 2024

What Does Tricare Mean?

Tricare is the health care program run by the U.S. Department of Defense for active and retired military personnel, their dependents and some members of the National Guard and Reserves. Formerly known as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), it provides care within the private (civilian) health care market, as opposed to military hospitals and other military-operated health care facilities. Tricare meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Tricare is sometimes stylized as TRICARE.

Insuranceopedia Explains Tricare

Until 1966, healthcare for active and retired members of the military was always provided at military-operated facilities. Due to the growth of the military during the Cold War, however, these facilities became overwhelmed by the number of people seeking care. Thus, CHAMPUS was created in 1966; it allowed the Secretary of Defense to contract with private healthcare providers. In 1997, administrative changes were made to CHAMPUS and the program was re-christened Tricare.

Tricare offers a number of different plans, including:

  • Preferred-provider plans (PPO.)
  • Health maintenance plans (HMO).
  • Plans for families.
  • Plans for retirees, including a plan that supplements Medicare.
  • Plans for young adults.
  • Plans designed to supplement other plans.
  • Plans designed for personnel living overseas.

In addition to health (medical) plans, Tricare also offers dental, drug prescription and certain special plans (for example, Combat-Related Special Compensation Travel Benefit Plan).


TRICARE Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services CHAMPUS
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