A new rule goes into effect last week, under the TRICARE Dependent Coverage Extension Act last year, which Montana’s U.S. Senator Jon Tester helped pass. TRICARE is the U.S. military’s health insurer. Until now, TRICARE military dependents were insured up to age 21, or up to age 23 for full-time students.

The U.S. Department of Defense last week announced open enrollment for dependents up to age 26.

“We have an obligation to see that the children of our troops have access to the same health insurance standards as everyone else,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “It’s common sense to extend this key provision to these young Montanans.”

Young adults under age 26 are the biggest group of uninsured Americans in the nation.

The health insurance reform law passed last year extends health coverage for dependents up to age 26, but those protections apply only to private insurance plans—not to dependents who rely on TRICARE.

Other consumer protections included in last year’s health insurance reform law include:
· Barring insurance companies from dropping coverage when folks get sick.
· Ending lifetime limits on coverage.
· Banning discrimination against children with preexisting medical conditions.
· Full coverage, with no copayments, for all preventative health services.