FORT RUCKER, Ala. (January 23, 2014) -- Patients referred for medical care outside a 100-mile radius of Lyster Army Health Clinic may be reimbursed for their travel expenses when proper documentation is turned into the managed care office.

Travel reimbursement is not new to TRICARE; however, knowing the steps to receive full reimbursement will help make the process easier.

Patients who are referred to a medical facility by their primary care manager must make sure they pick up a travel packet from the managed care office, located toward the back of the clinic.

Overnight stays are approved if the lengths of roundtrip travel plus the appointment time is equal to or greater than a normal work day. The travel length uses LAHC as the starting point and not the patient's home.

Expenses such as airfare, gas, food and lodging are reimbursed based on the per diem rate for the specific location. These expenses must be approved through TRICARE and reservations must be made by the beneficiary, or parent or legal guardian if the beneficiary is a minor.

"We make sure the patient is aware of how much they are authorized to spend each day on lodging and meals to help keep them within budget," said Stacy Woodall, benefits counseling and prime travel coordinator at LAHC. "Any expenses greater than the per diem must be paid out of pocket by the patient."

Active-duty Soldiers referred for medical travel for outpatient visits or surgeries will be reimbursed through their unit. Soldiers who are hospitalized as an inpatient for 24 hours or more are reimbursed through the TRICARE medical travel program.

All minors are authorized a non-medical attendant (such as a parent or guardian) whose travel and food bills will also be reimbursable. Patient 18 years old and older must receive approval for a non-medical attendant to accompany them.

"An example of a patient 18 years old or older who needs a non-medical attendant is someone undergoing medical care which leaves them unable to operate a vehicle or care for themselves," Woodall said.

Before leaving the doctor's office it is important for patients to obtain a doctor's note stating they attended the appointment. This must be turned in as part of the reimbursement packet.

Active-duty Soldiers are not required to turn in food and gas receipts because they are paid a per diem and mileage; however they are encouraged to obtain receipts for all transactions made should a discrepancy occur.

All other patients not on active duty are required to turn in all receipts and food receipts must be itemized.

"We encourage patients to ask any questions prior to travel to alleviate confusion or denial of reimbursement," Woodall said.

Page last updated Thu January 23rd, 2014 at 15:48