Leaving Active Duty? Don’t Forget to Meet MEC


Transitioning from active duty status may leave some beneficiaries with questions about their health care. Military families are offered several options to transition from active duty as smoothly as possible. Once you leave active duty status, you will need to take be proactive to ensure that you and your family have health care that meets minimum essential coverage (MEC) as required by the Affordable Care Act.


The first program in place for military members and families leaving active duty status is the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP). This program offers 180 days of premium-free transitional health care benefits and begins the day after you separate from active duty. TAMP eligibility is determined by the services and reflected in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). While you are using the TAMP benefit, you meet the MEC requirement. During TAMP, you may enroll or reenroll in a TRICARE Prime, including US Family Health Plan, or TRICARE Overseas Prime, where available. For more information, visit You can also download the TAMP Fact Sheet.

After TAMP eligibility ends, or if you’re not eligible for TAMP, you may be eligible for the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP), another option for transitional health care coverage. This program allows beneficiaries to continue health coverage by providing 18 to 36 months of temporary premium-based coverage. CHCBP begins the day after you lose your active duty TRICARE coverage or TAMP and also meets the MEC requirement. For more information about purchasing health care coverage through CHCBP, go to and download the CHCBP Fact Sheet. Keep in mind, you are not required to purchase CHCBP, but it is an option.

To ensure continuity of coverage during the TAMP period, you need to keep your information updated in DEERS. For CHCBP, beneficiaries enrolled in a premium-based plan must have been covered at least one day before the loss of TRICARE eligibility to qualify to purchase CHCBP when that coverage ends.

Whether you are using TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Standard or the US Family Health Plan, leaving active duty requires thought and planning; don’t forget to plan for your health care. If you enrolled in the TRICARE Plus program, meaning you are enrolled at a military hospital and only eligible for care there, you're not covered by a TRICARE plan that meets the requirements for minimum essential coverage.  If you don't have minimum essential coverage, you may have to pay a fee for each month you aren’t covered. For more information about TRICARE plans that meet MEC, visit