Why I Chose TriCare Select for My Pregnancy

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At this point, y’all know I love TriCare.  I’ve even written a love letter to TriCare.  But how do you choose between Tricare Prime and TriCare Select (formerly known as TriCare Standard)?

Sometimes it’s Super Obvious Which to Choose

For most of us it’s a no brainer on which we choose.  For those that live on post it makes complete sense to use Prime, since the hospital is like half a mile from their home.  Others choose Prime because they don’t want to deal with out-of-pocket costs EVER.  People living off post may not want the hassle of going through the gate so Select makes sense for them.  Or maybe they want the ability to choose their own providers.  There are a ton of pros for both options, no matter what way you slice it.

When my husband and I first married I chose TriCare Prime for my health care.  We didn’t live on post, but since he deployed immediately after and I wanted the one stop shop feel, it made sense at the time.  I found out I was pregnant around this time and I loved TriCare Prime.

That Love Soon Turned to Disillusionment

Unfortunately, that pregnancy was the first of several miscarriages.  While I found it an easy process to verify my pregnancy, go to the ER when I lost the baby, and schedule follow-up appointment, I was less than impressed with the care that I received.

There were many times when I felt that my chart wasn’t looked at when I appeared for an appointment.  They congratulated me at ultrasounds and then told me they couldn’t find a heartbeat (though I’d miscarried a week prior).  They shuffled me between clinics at the hospital, sometimes at the OB sometimes at the PCM clinic, even though they were all OB appointments.

I began wondering what my other options were for providers, but since I was in the middle of a medical issue I didn’t feel comfortable switching my care.

Then I Just Let Time Get Away From Me

By the time I was done with all my follow-up appointments for the complications I experienced with that miscarriage it was time for my husband to come home.  Besides the issues I experience with childbearing, I’m relatively healthy.  I chose to think about my husband’s redeployment and finally going on our honeymoon.

That meant that the next time I was pregnant, I still had TriCare Prime.  I went through the same process of verifying my pregnancy with my Primary Care Manager before scheduling my first obstetrics appointment.  While most of my friends (married to civilians) saw their OB/GYN at some point between their positive pregnancy test and 10 weeks gestation, my first appointment wasn’t until 13 weeks gestation. Given my recent miscarriage I found this maddening.  Strike 2 for TriCare Prime.

I’ll Admit

My care was adequate.  I advocated for myself enough this time around to make sure that I saw the same provider each time.  But is adequate care what anyone looks for when they’re pregnant?  Especially after experiencing a loss?

My doctor was kind, if young, and was patient with my constant questions.  My husband deployed during that pregnancy and it was nice to talk to people who understood what I went through.

Then Came the Walk Through

The on post medical center became the final nail in TriCare Prime’s coffin.  It was like I stepped back in time.  While the medical mall (where the clinics are) was modern and bright, the hospital was straight out of 1972.  Besides some really ritzy hospitals, most look the same these days.  In this hospital it looked like the machines weren’t updated in years and the bassinets and furniture had rips, fade, and missing chunks.

I’d been continually told that I’d have a private room for labor and delivery.  Once I was on my tour I found out there were only 4 delivery rooms and they can’t guarantee a private room unless 4 or less were in labor.  On a massive joint military base the chances of only 4 people being in labor at any given time is laughable.  Women posted on the hospital FB page that they were turned away for overcrowding while in labor and forced to deliver in an off post ER.  Not cool.

Out With the Old, in with TriCare Select

My husband encouraged me when I told him I wanted to switch coverage.  He just wanted what was best for me and baby.  I did a ton of research and found a way to incur the least amount of medical bills before making the official switch.  I chose to start from the final stage and work my way backwards.  I figured out which hospital I wanted to deliver at.  Three friends delivered recently, each at a different hospital.  So I got to hear their stories as well as see their rooms first hand when I visited their little bundles.

Once I knew what hospital I wanted to deliver at it was easier the find my doctor.  I found out all the doctors that delivered there.  Then I narrowed down which ones took TriCare and which ones were in-network.

Keep This In Mind

It’s important to note that while a doctor may accept TriCare Select, they may not be in-network.  Non-network providers can charge more for services.  In network providers charge minimally.  I paid 70 dollars out-of-pocket for that pregnancy.  A small price to pay for such a wonderful experience.

TriCare Select Was the Best Choice

By switching to TriCare Select I received the care that I expected from the beginning.  My doctors were knowledgeable and attentive.  I received state of the art care.  It was never difficult to get an appointment and I always knew exactly who to call and for what.  The hospital I delivered in was gorgeous.  I had a private lactation specialist, a photographer that did fresh 48 photos, I received a goodie bag far beyond the pampers, wipes, and nasal aspirator that everyone is told to take home.

For those of you that only delivered in civilian hospitals this may all seem pretty run of mill.  For those of us used to the on post health system, this was like a stay at the Ritz Carlton.

Is TriCare Select the Only Way to Have a Good Pregnancy?

Absolutely not.  By the time #2 came around we were at a different installation and lived on post.  My husband deployed (it’s a recurring theme in our marriage).  This hospital had recently gone through a complete remodel, I had my own room throughout the whole experience and attentive care.

As for my OB care, it was great.  They chose my provider by my due date to make sure my doctor wouldn’t be on leave when I delivered.  I had every appointment made at my first visit so I knew what to expect and when.  So it was night and day from the first full term pregnancy.

So What Should You Do?

The most important thing to remember is to do your research.  Don’t get blind sided at the end of your pregnancy when you may not want to switch your care.

Also, with the new TriCare laws that go in effect in 2019 you can’t switch plans whenever you want.  Pregnancy doesn’t count as a major life event (go figure).  You can only change when you PCS or during a major life event, like death or divorce.  So planning is CRUCIAL.  I know babies happen, but please consider the stress you could end up in due to lack of planning.

How was your birth experience?  Did you use TriCare Prime or Tricare Select?

TriCare Select

52 thoughts on “Why I Chose TriCare Select for My Pregnancy

    1. For those of us who are affiliated with the military (my husband is an active duty soldier) Tricare is our only employer provided insurance option. There are many wonderful things about tricare, you just need to know how to work within the system.

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriages and other challenges. Geezz! I wish all of this didn’t have to happen to anyone. Thanks for sharing your story, it is good for awareness and hopefully change. I wish you the very best in the future. 🙂

  2. There have been so many stories I have heard from friends about TriCare. Some are good and some are VERY BAD! I am sorry that your experience with healthcare in general has been this hectic.

  3. I’m sorry you went through it. In Serbia, doctors care for free during pregnancy, but .. The whole system is very corrupt and you have to pay extra for doctors and nurses. I did not want to, so at birth they almost did not pay attention to me, while in every way they helped the women next to me, who paid them extra (although it was forbidden by law).

  4. Sorry you had negative experience in the beginning. Even with insurance we end up paying as my anesthetist is out of network. only hospital in the net work.Check and do homework before going to hospital tricare sounds

  5. As a physician, I can honestly say that all your concerns are also true of most insurances. There are many plans that may cost more up front but less after healthcare visits OR cost less on a monthly basis but you have a lot to pay after each visit. Healthcare is very expensive and many people blame physicians. We cannot control how much insurance pays. Doing homework is always needed.

  6. It is very sad to think that you could be treated inferior just because you don’t have the best health insurance out there. I can’t even imagine how outrageous this is!

  7. Yes, definitely do your research. It’s so hard to get all the information you need and then for military spouses to try to understand all the lingo makes it all so confusing. Thank you for helping so much with this information!

  8. so sorry to hear what you went through. You shouldn’t have to go through it. and you are very brave to share this with the world. Hugs.

  9. I am so sorry you have had so many trials with health care. I’ve always been prime no matter where we lived because until now we’ve only lived in a few places with a clinics and not military hospitals. I hadn’t really put too much thought in changing from prime to select. But you’ve given me some food for thought. I will add that apparently all military hospitals are not the same quality. That’s a problem, we should expect to have the same high level of care no matter where they send us. However, the military facilities I’ve visited (Fort Carson, Portsmouth and Fort Riley) are all modern and well equipped facilities not unlike any civilian ones.

    1. It’s definitely true that not all of the hospitals are created equally! While the the one at JBLM left much to be desired, Fort Campbell had a great hospital. We’ve been stationed at Fort Benning twice and the first time the hospital was super old and a nightmare but they had a completely new facility when we lived there the second time.

  10. Tricare is a great option when it is available for you, but there is always so much to consider. So many people do not look into insurance as much as they should, and even if you do it is so overwhelming. Thank you for breaking some of it down!!

  11. This is such an informative post. There is so much to think about while pregnant, I’ve never heard of tricare before but it really does sound like it would be a good option to consider!

  12. It sounds like you made the best decision for you. Pregnancy can be such a crazy time – you should have amazing care and not have to worry about that part!

  13. Sooo true I need to select my insurance once I am back to USA … I am currently 22 weeks and I need to get an appointment as soon as possible 😊👍🏼… what happened to you is soo scary I can’t imagine that happening to me 😣

  14. Wow what a difference between you and here in Australia. Here with pregnancy its all free if you just go into the public hospital. Not a cent to pay at all unless you go to private – which most people only do if they have a serious medical issue and need a particular OB. Feel so lucky here with our health system that we can get free health care. I could just imagine the bills you must get over there! Ive had 2 c-sections and stayed 4 nights completely looked after, fed etc and nothing to pay at all!

  15. Having good insurance definitely eases stress especially at a time you cant afford to be. Terrible to hear what you went through but glad that with TriCare you were taken cared of.

  16. I am so glad you did your research and finally found a plan that worked better for you! This is a non-issue for me because we’re not in the military, and my husband’s work only has two plans that are all the same thing except for the deductible and copays – but I did my research a few years ago and figured out that even with using a lot of healthcare (which we do), we’d literally save THOUSANDS a year with the high-deductible plan. Go figure!

  17. Sorry for the way you were treated! What a difference between the UK and the US. Good insurance is such a must… especially when you are pregnant and have others to think about.

  18. I’m sorry you had such a negative experience in the beginning, but so happy everything worked out for you! My fiancé and I are hoping to start a family soon and after reading this I will definitely be doing my research into my options!

  19. Aw how exciting! Congrats! Coming from doctor trust me a good healthcare plan is key! You want to keep you and baby healthy during this time.

  20. Sorry for the way you were treated! It’s never ok to be treated that way. Good insurance is such a necessity… especially when you are pregnant!

  21. First of all congratulations having a baby is such a blessing. I feel so disappointed for the way you were treated. Thank you for sharing your story.

  22. Good insurance can make such a difference! We aren’t military so tricare wasn’t an option for me. I had much better insurance with my second son than my first and it was such a relief to know I was covered.

  23. Wow I had no idea about all of this. I didn’t have regular insurance during my pregnancies, but if I ever decide to have another, I will definitely do my research!

  24. This is awful. Feeling really bad for you. This is very unprofessional behavior. Thanks for sharing your experience. People need to know about this and after reading this I personally feel that research and planning are important because this is a matter of life.

  25. First of all congratulations having a baby is such a blessing. Very happy for you and your family for this addition despite all the struggles. Choosing the right care is such a peace of mind. Hoping all goes well.

  26. I feel so disappointed for the way you were treated. I can’t imagine having a packed delivery room or being turned away while in labor. That’s so terrible! Thank you for sharing your story. More people need to know what our military families lives are really like.

  27. Wow, you’ve been through a lot! I can’t imagine having to choose my own plan. In my country healthcare is free and you don’t have to choose any additional plans. Hospitals are always clean and up to the highest standard, and everyone receives the same care.

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