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thedrifter
11-05-02, 10:41 AM
1. COLA is 1.4% for 2003
2. HHS Announces Medicare Premium And Deductible Rates For 2003
3. TROA Scholarship Fund a Designated Charity
4. TROA Benefits Information Booklets And Fact Sheets Available On Line
5. FLTCIP Open Enrollment Passes Midway Point
6. TRICARE Online Promises Easier, Faster Service To Some Patients
7. DECA Scholarships For Children Program Opened Nov. 1
8. "myPay" Improves DFAS Electronic Pay Services
9. DoD Releases Deseret Test Center/Project 112/Project Shad Fact Sheets
10. Helping You Solve The TFL ID-Card Puzzle


1. COLA is 1.4% for 2003

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to more than 50 million Americans will increase 1.4 percent in 2003.

Military retirees will also get the 1.4 percent increase since raises are based on the Consumer Price Index which determines the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to various programs including military retired pay, survivor benefits, and veterans compensation, in addition to Social Security benefits.

The 1.4 percent increase will begin with benefits that beneficiaries receive in January 2003.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $87,000 from $84,900 in 2002.
As a result of the increase in the taxable maximum in 2003, the maximum yearly Social Security tax paid by employees and employers will increase by $130.20 each for a total of $5394.00. For self-employed workers, it will rise by $260.40 to a total of $10,788.00. Of the approximately 155 million workers who pay Social Security taxes, about 9.7 million are affected by the higher wage base in 2003.


2. HHS Announces Medicare Premium And Deductible Rates For 2003

On the heels of the slight 1.4 percent Social Security increase, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a more substantial increase in the Medicare premium, deductible and coinsurance amounts to be paid by Medicare beneficiaries in 2003.

The monthly premium paid by beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment and other items, will be $58.70, an increase of 8.7 percent over the $54.00 premium for 2002.

Medicare law requires that the deductibles and premiums be updated annually in accordance with statutory formulas. The law sets the Part B premium at the amount needed to cover 25 percent of estimated program costs for aged enrollees. General revenue tax dollars cover the other 75 percent of the costs. The same statute prescribes the method for computing the Part A inpatient hospital deductible.

All Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part B pay the monthly premium. The Part A deductible applies only to those enrolled in the original fee-for-service Medicare program.

Most of Medicare's 40.4 million beneficiaries are enrolled in the optional Part B, which helps pay for physician services, hospital outpatient care, durable medical equipment and other services, including some home health care. Nearly 90 percent also have some form of supplemental coverage (such as Medigap, Medicaid, or TRICARE For Life) to help reduce out-of-pocket medical costs.

The Part A deductible is the beneficiary's only cost for up to 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital care. However, for extended Medicare-covered hospital stays, beneficiaries must pay an additional $210 per day for days 61 through 90 in 2003, and $420 per day for hospital stays beyond the 90th day in a benefit period. For 2002, per day payment for days 61 through 90 was $203, and $406 for beyond 90 days.
For beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities, the daily co-insurance for days 21 through 100 will be $105 in 2003, compared to $101.50 in 2002. Most military retirees with TRICARE For Life do not incur these costs.

States have programs that pay some or all of beneficiaries' premiums and coinsurance for certain people who have Medicare and a low income. Information is available at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and, for hearing and speech impaired, at TTY/TDD: 1-877-486-2048.

Information concerning the Social Security Cost of Living increase for 2003 was also released today and can be found at http://www.SSA.gov.


3. TROA Scholarship Fund a Designated Charity

The TROA Scholarship Fund is a designated charity of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) and local United Way campaigns. Recipients are children of TROA members, and children of active-duty, Reserve, National Guard, or retired enlisted military personnel. If you wish to contribute through the Combined Federal Campaign or the United Way of the National Capital Area, the TROA Scholarship Fund number is 2142. Otherwise, look for the Scholarship Fund number in your local United Way Campaign literature listed as Retired Officers Association Scholarship Fund (TROA). If you cannot locate the charity number, you can write in TROA Scholarship Fund, 201 N Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314 on your pledge card. Remember, all money donated to the fund is used for loans and grants. The administrative costs are paid by TROA.


4. TROA Benefits Information Booklets And Fact Sheets Available On Line

Did you know that you could view and download most of TROA's Benefits Information Department Booklets and Fact Sheets from your computer? Log onto www.TROA.org and select "Benefits Information" to enter the Benefits Information area. You can order booklets to be sent to you through the mail from this area. However, you can also click on "Fact Sheets" to read or download those documents. Booklets can also be downloaded in total or in sections from the same area. Just select the "Booklets" item contained in the Fact Sheets section to view the selections available.


5. FLTCIP Open Enrollment Passes Midway Point

The open enrollment season for the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program has now past the halfway point. The season started July 1 and eligible individuals can enroll through Dec. 31.

Those eligible include active-duty members, retirees, reservists, federal civilian employees, their spouses, parents, stepparents, parents-in-law, and adult children.
The insurance is offered by John Hancock and MetLife and is administered by Long
Term Care Partners, a joint venture between the two companies.

For more information, call (800) LTC-FEDS or visit www.LTCFEDS.com. Please note that Federal Long Term Care Insurance is not a TRICARE program.


6. TRICARE Online Promises Easier, Faster Service To Some Patients

Some TRICARE Prime and Plus beneficiaries have a new tool that makes getting doctor's appointments and health care information as easy as clicking a mouse.

TRICARE Online at http://www.tricareonline.com/ is DoD's first effort at using the Internet to reach out and touch patients across the entire military health system. More than 4,000 TRICARE patients have made routine appointments using http://www.tricareonline.com/ since testing began in June 2001. The initial test installations were Andrews Air Force Base, Md.; Rader Clinic, Fort Myer, Va.; and Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

Anyone with a Web browser can surf the site, but only TRICARE Prime and Plus beneficiaries in the serviced areas are currently able to use the site to make appointments with primary health care providers. The Web site features a 30- to 40-day calendar showing patients all available appointments with their primary care manager or the manager's team members where they're enrolled.

Beneficiaries must set up a password-protected personal account on the site to take full advantage of TRICARE Online's power. People will be able to refill their prescriptions on the Web within the next year. That service currently is unavailable.

continued..............

thedrifter
11-05-02, 10:42 AM
7. DECA Scholarships For Children Program Opened Nov. 1 <br />
<br />
The 2003 Scholarships for Military Children program opened for business Nov. 1 and the burning question is &quot;How has being the child of a...

thedrifter
11-05-02, 10:43 AM
10. Helping You Solve The TFL ID-Card Puzzle

Are you confused about TRICARE For Life (TFL) and whether you need to update your Uniformed Services Identification (ID) Card to use the program? Do you want to know the difference between updating your Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) record and obtaining a new ID card? Do you want to know why the back of your ID card reads "Civilian No" and your friend or family member's reads "Civilian Yes?" If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you will find the following information helpful.

If you are a sponsor, age 65 or over, and eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, you do not need to update your current ID card to receive health care under TFL -- even if the medical eligibility status printed on the back of your ID card indicates "Civilian No." Medicare Part B is required for TFL eligibility. If you have used TFL and have received a TRICARE explanation of benefits statement that TFL has paid your claims, you do not need to notify DEERS that you have Medicare Part B. Your Medicare Part B information has been picked up in a data match with Medicare. You do not need to update anything in DEERS other than changes in your residence, mailing address or family member status.

If you haven't used TRICARE For Life yet or don't think that your Medicare Part B information is being picked up during TFL claims processing, you may call your regional managed care support contractor or visit your nearest military personnel office that has an ID-card facility and have them register your Medicare Part B enrollment status in DEERS. If you visit an ID-card facility, you should bring your Medicare card with you. You may go online to locate the nearest personnel office or ID facility at www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl, or call 1-888-DoD-LIFE (1-888-363-5433) for these locations and other information about TRICARE For Life. You do not need to obtain a new ID card when you add your enrollment in Medicare Part B, as you are only updating your record.

If you are a family member, survivor, or TRICARE-eligible former spouse age 65 or over, and eligible for Medicare Parts A and B, you need to look at your ID card and see if it has expired. If you have an expired ID card, you should visit or contact the nearest military personnel office that has an ID card facility to have a new ID card issued.

You may go online to locate the nearest personnel office or ID facility at www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl, or call 1-888-DoD-LIFE (1-888-363-5433) for these locations and other information about TRICARE For Life. If you are not able to travel, contact your nearest ID card facility for instructions on renewing your ID card by mail. To renew your ID card, you must have a pre-verified application form titled, Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card -- DEERS Enrollment, DD Form 1172. If your sponsor is alive, the form must be signed by your sponsor in front of a notary public or other authorized verifying officer. If you are a survivor, you should contact your local ID card office for the documents that are required to obtain an ID card.

Family member ID cards are current for four years, unless you turn 65 during the four-year period. Turning 65 is another reason for your ID card to expire.

If you are over age 65 and have recently updated your ID card, your medical eligibility status printed on the back of your ID card may indicate "Civilian Yes." This means you are eligible for TFL.

If you have had no reason to update your ID card (it hasn't expired and you haven't recently turned 65), your medical eligibility status printed on the back of your ID card may indicate "Civilian No." You are not required to update your current ID card to receive health care under TFL. The next time you update your ID card, the medical eligibility status will be changed.

To update Medicare Part A and B eligibility in your DEERS record, the process is the same for sponsors, family members, and survivors of eligible former sponsors, as long as their Social Security Number (in addition to the sponsor's) is recorded in DEERS. If you have used TFL and you have received a TRICARE explanation of benefits, it is not necessary for you to update DEERS. Your Medicare Part B information has been picked up in a data match with Medicare. You do not need to update anything in DEERS other than changes in your residence or mailing address.

To verify your eligibility in DEERS, you may call the Defense Manpower Data Center Support Office toll free at 1-800-538-9552, or TTY/TDD: 1-800-363-2883 for speech or hearing impaired. If you require additional information on enrolling in Medicare Part B, contact the Social Security Administration toll free at 1-800-772-1213, or TTY/TDD: 1-800-325-0778 for speech or hearing impaired. Additional information on Medicare is available at www.medicare.gov, and up-to-date information on TFL is available on the TRICARE Web site at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/tfl.

Sempers,

Roger