All stateside Tricare in-person service centers will be closing April 1, Tricare officials recently confirmed.
The closure of the 189 facilities is expected to save the Defense Department about $50 million a year, officials said. The Tricare Service Centers, which handle about 137,000 visitors a month, are staffed by contractors and handle issues ranging from processing provider changes to billing problems.
"The change will not -- let me repeat that -- will not affect any Tricare medical benefit or health care service," Army Col. Steve Warren, a DoD spokesman said in a statement. "What it will do is allow the department to save $250 million over the next five years, allowing Tricare to invest in more important services."
All of the services currently dealt with by service center staff can be currently handled exclusively over the phone, they said.
Officials don't plan to add any staff to call centers as a result of the closures since shuttering the service centers is anticipated to only marginally increase call center volume, officials said.
Still beneficiaries are unlikely to be happy about the change. Over 80 percent of Tricare users polled by Military.com’s SpouseBuzz blog in early November said that they do not want the service centers to close. About 11 percent of the 3,321 respondents said the closures might be a good thing. Only about nine percent of respondents said they support the closures....
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