I won’t do any beating around the bush today. Switching to Tricare Standard from Tricare Prime is hands down one of the best decisions our family has ever made, and I’d love to share with you our experience if you’re also military and interested in switching yourself.
Making a long story short, Hadley and I switched to Tricare Standard when Hadley was almost nine months old after a series of disastrous appointments on Prime at Fort Huachuca (AZ). Not only were our appointments lasting upwards of three+ hours from start to finish (which is so miserable when you’re sick or your baby is sick), but our time with the doctors was always rushed and scattered. I even walked out of an emergency clinic on post one time with someone else’s records that they mistakenly handed me (they chased me into the parking lot to get them back when they realized the error).
We’d considered switching to Standard for several months before we moved to Arizona after several other negative experiences. For example, Prime’s referral system to see a specialty doctor resulted in a several month wait period to see a dermatologist to get a few sun spots examined for skin cancer. I was annoyed that I had to wait to see my regular doctor, then wait again for the referral, and then wait again to actually see the dermatologist .
Finally, I unfortunately did not have a great pregnancy and delivery experience at Fort Campbell’s hospital with Hadley. Their appointment scheduling system was bizarre and not conducive to someone who works, the wait time in the waiting rooms was very wasteful, and several of the negative things that happened during Hadley’s birth experience most likely wouldn’t have happened in a civilian hospital. I even had a roommate while in the Mother/Baby unit! No fun, you guys.
I really hate to be so negative (my regular readers know I’m usually a very “half glass full” person), but our experience on Tricare Prime was frustrating to say the least.
Our experience since switching to Standard
I was the one who picked Hadley’s pediatrician (as opposed to Tricare picking the doctor on Prime), and he is incredible. Their entire office is incredible. I want him to be her doctor forever! Every time Hadley has gotten sick they’ve been able to get us an appointment that day (usually within the hour, even on Sundays), and we’ve never sat in the waiting room or exam room for more than 10 minutes max.
My prenatal care on Standard with Sadie was a night and day experience to Hadley’s on Prime.
Switching to an OBGYN in Alabama to deliver Sadie was a breeze with zero bumps in the road. I cannot imagine what a logistical nightmare that would have been on Prime.
My hospital experience to deliver Sadie felt like a dream compared to Hadley’s. In my opinion, there is no comparison between a well-kept civilian hospital versus a military hospital.
Hadley, Sadie, and I have a $300 joint deductible that we have to meet each fiscal year.
All of our routine appointments are covered and we do not pay toward our deductible.
When Hadley’s been sick in the past, we usually get a $75 bill that goes toward our deductible.
My expenses to deliver Sadie on Tricare Standard came to $71 total from my first appointment at five weeks pregnant until I delivered her and went home.
I know many people stay on Prime simply because they appreciate that it’s free, which I completely understand and also enjoyed when we were on it. Heck, it’s hard to beat not paying a penny to have a baby! In our opinion though, it’s hard to put a price on good, quality healthcare. Our exceptional experience on Tricare Standard has been invaluable and truly priceless. It’s one of the aspects of our military lives that we are the most grateful for.
I don’t have all of the answers about switching from Prime to Standard, but I believe it’s worth researching to determine if it’s a better fit for your family.
One last note: I actually adored nearly all of our doctors and nurses on Tricare Prime. As individuals, they were incredible people who wanted to offer exceptional care. However, from my experience it just seems like the Prime system is so flooded and overcrowded that these medical workers are spread extremely thin and can only do the best they can do. Again, just my opinion. I am not a healthcare professional.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with Prime and Standard (your stories will further help other readers who are considering which one is right for them.)