Last updated: August 18. 2014 11:38AM - 116 Views
Thomas Crisp Contributing Columnist

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Over three months ago the Army announced a new policy limiting the number and placement of tattoos that soldiers could have. Now, recruiters say it is making their jobs harder.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the new policy bans “body art on the head, face, neck, wrists, hands and fingers. Soldiers are allowed a maximum of four visible tattoos below the elbow or knee, but they must be smaller than the wearer’s hand, which means that “sleeves” are also prohibited. (Extremist, sexist and racist tattoos have always been taboo.)”

This makes the Army the toughest service when it comes to a policy regarding tattoos on its members. Prior to the need to increase recruiting after the U.S. invasion of Iraq the tattoo policy was strict, but the need for more soldiers forced a relaxing of the rules.

Now, with the reduction in force, the Army decided it could reinstitute the tougher policy. Those currently serving and who are out of compliance with the new regulation have been grandfathered in, so it is only new recruits who are affected.

Pencils? Check. Glue sticks? Check. But did you remember to schedule your child’s school physical? As a TRICARE beneficiary, your child can receive annual school physicals, vaccinations and other well-child services, for no out-of-pocket costs.

Regular visits to the doctor are important for overall health, especially for children. The visits allow health care providers to track growth and development as well as prevent illness and disease. Well-child visits that support the health and well-being of children from birth until reaching age 6 are all covered by TRICARE.

The well-child benefit includes routine newborn care, comprehensive health-promotion and disease-prevention exams, vision and hearing screenings, and routine immunizations and developmental assessments as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For children ages 5–11, TRICARE covers annual physicals and vaccinations required for school enrollment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measles cases in the United States this year are the highest in nearly 20 years (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ed/ciinc/2014-05-22.html). This is just one example of why it is important for children to receive regular vaccinations.

TRICARE covers age-appropriate vaccinations, including annual flu shots, as recommended by the CDC. Help your child get off to a healthy start this fall by adding “annual physical” to your back-to-school checklist. Note: TRICARE does not cover sports or camp physicals.

If your child needs a sports or camp physical, you may be required to submit a Request for Non-Covered Services form to your health care provider. Completing this form shows that you know you will be paying for the non-covered service out of pocket. To obtain the form, contact UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans at 1-877-988-WEST (1-877-988-9378) or visit uhcmilitarywest.com.

The TRICARE mental health benefit just got bigger. Beneficiaries can now choose between two qualified mental health counselor types: independently practicing TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselors (TCMHC) and Supervised Mental Health Counselors (SMHC).

TRICARE will authorize TCMHCs as independent providers who meet specific qualification criteria. They must have a master’s degree from a mental health counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) by Jan. 1, 2017. TCMHCs can independently treat TRICARE beneficiaries but SMHCs will continue to practice under the referral and supervision of TRICARE-authorized physicians.

Some beneficiaries may worry they won’t be able to continue seeing their current mental health care provider under this new guidance.

The Defense Health Agency is tasked with making military medicine stronger, better and more relevant for the future. This change moves us one step closer to that goal, ensuring the availability of well-qualified, independent providers for their beneficiaries. For more information about TRICARE mental health coverage, visit tricare.mil/mentalhealth.

TRICARE Prime Enrollment Fees for Fiscal Year 2015 TRICARE Prime enrollment fees are changing for fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014-Sept. 30, 2015) for retired service members and their eligible family members, survivors and former spouses. The annual fee for an individual beneficiary will be $277.92 and the annual fee for beneficiary family coverage will be $555.84. There are no

TRICARE Prime enrollment fees for active duty service members and active duty family members. For details or more information, visit www.tricare.mil/costs. [Source: TRICARE Health Matters (West) Issue 3: 2014]

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