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Insurance changes cause concern for military widow

By Denise Olivas
Published On: Mar 07 2013 07:27:03 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:43:57 PM CST

ABC-7's Denise Olivas reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

A health care provider that covers military families, retirees and their dependents is making some changes.

TRICARE covers more than 9 million service members and their families.

Ann Neithamer, an Army widow since 1971, is comforted knowing her health coverage will follow her for a lifetime.

Her husband Lt. Col. Ron Neithamer, served in the Army for 20 years.

TRICARE for Life provides health coverage to beneficiaries 65 years of age or older so they don't have to solely rely on Medicare.

"I am so thankful that I have TRICARE for Life, that the government has that for us. I'm very blessed as a military widow," said Neithamer.

It was a letter sent by the Department of Defense Health Affairs office that made her question the coverage she has relied on for more than five decades.

The letter stated that all TRICARE benefits will be administered through a new contractor beginning April 1, with the potential of major changes for members.

"Oh my goodness, maybe I won't be able to use the same physicians that I've been using," said Neithamer, an unsettling thought for the widow, who gave a copy of the letter to ABC-7.

She said what wasn't clear is that she is the exception because she is covered under TRICARE for Life, something that was not mentioned in the letter.

"It really was unnerving when i got the letter. If you're not computer literate and don't have someone who can do it and find out you feel like you're in limbo,"said
ABC-7 reached out to the public affairs office for TRICARE, but no one was available for comment.

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