By Patricia Kime, Air Force Times
Tricare beneficiaries who see civilian doctors aren't seeing any effects from the government shutdown yet, but the contractors and doctors who care for them aren't getting paid.
The Defense Health Agency notified all three Tricare regional contract managers on Oct. 2 that DHA has the funds to pay them for services for two weeks, although the money actually is not being distributed.
Instead, the contractors will be paid, with interest, when funding is available - essentially, when Congress authorizes the appropriations.
It is unknown what will happen beyond Oct. 15, Tricare officials said, although they are "closely monitoring the impact of the government shutdown."
"If the government shutdown continues, the DHA would look at the best way to support the contractors; we would take the appropriate actions to assure that our beneficiaries are cared for," DHA spokesman Austin Camacho said.
Some Tricare beneficiaries who receive their care at military hospitals and clinics already are feeling the effects of the shutdown. Under the budget constraints, appointments for routine care and elective surgeries are being postponed.
Tricare also is not processing travel claims for Tricare Prime or Combat-Related Specialty Care. According to a Tricare statement, those affected can still file their travel claims and Tricare will review them after the shutdown ends.
In SEC filings earlier this week, both Humana, the contractor for the Tricare South Region, and Health Net, the manager for the Tricare North region, estimated that claims during the two weeks would amount to roughly $175 million and $106 million, respectively.
Defense Department officials have not yet calculated the cost of the interest that will accrue during these two weeks.
Tricare West Region contractor UnitedHealthcare did not file a report with the SEC.
Tricare oversees health services to 9.6 million service members, military families and retirees.