Tricare is health insurance that covers military, ex-military, and soldiers’ family members. The Tricare card allows easy access to network doctors with only a small copay due at the time of the appointment. Tricare policies apply the same way private health insurance does in injury cases. The differences are at the back end, where the military branch or Tricare seeks reimbursement. If a soldier is injured in an accident and presents a personal injury claim, the branch of the military that provides free medical treatment to the soldier will seek payment for medical care from the outside party who caused the injury. If the injured soldier hires a lawyer, the military compels the attorney to protect the federal government’s interest. Thus, in a soldier’s injury claim, we often see branches such as the Department of the Navy seeking a signed agreement where the soldier’s attorney agrees to also represent the federal government to ensure that the responsible parties pay for medical care provided for injured military personnel.
From the patient’s perspective, using Tricare coverage allows visits to nonmilitary medical facilities. These facilities typically maintain more thorough medical records and the doctors in these private-sector clinics are less likely to be transferred far away. Whenever possible, it is best for injured soldiers to seek care outside of the military hospital and military medical network.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payments coverage (a.k.a. medpay) is another source of health insurance for motor vehicle accident victims. This is wonderful coverage and should be carefully utilized by every accident victim. Medpay is a portable health insurance policy that is attached to the car insurance policy. Victims often have rights to collect under multiple medpay policies. The primary medpay insurer is the policy that covers the car that the victim occupied at the time of collision. Once that policy is exhausted, the victim can look to other policies in his or her household for additional coverage (see chapter 1 for a detailed description of how to locate and use medpay policies).
Medpay pays the full amount of billed medical expenses. Unlike other health insurance sources, the medpay insurance carrier does not have a right to collect reimbursement from your injury settlement. Thus, if you are eligible for medpay coverage, you can collect twice for covered medical expenses thereby netting a higher share of your total injury settlement. If you have health insurance and medpay, the health insurance carrier may have a right to take a share of your medpay as reimbursement for their payment of accident-related medical expenses. Through proper timing and coordination of health insurance and medpay filings, you can reduce the health insurance carrier’s reimbursement claims and thereby increase your total share of all insurance benefits and payments.