FORT HOOD, Texas— Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center officials want to remind Fort Hood active-duty service members to seek urgent care treatment at their assigned Soldier-centered medical home or the emergency department on post to avoid paying out-of-pocket for visits to an off-post Urgent Care center.

TRICARE policy guidelines for 2018 allow many TRICARE Prime enrollees to obtain care at in-network Urgent Care centers.

“However, where the confusion comes in, is that those changes do not apply to active-duty Soldiers,” said Maj. Renee Zmijski, chief of Managed Care at CRDAMC. “We’ve had Soldiers who have gone to local Urgent Care Centers and then are surprised when they received a bill in the mail for that visit. Unfortunately, they are 100 percent responsible for those charges.”

Zmijski explained that TRICARE policy mandates all active-duty service members stationed within a medical treatment facility’s service area must receive their care at that facility. Active-duty service members require a referral or prior authorization for any care received off-post.

There are certain exceptions such as for those active-duty service members enrolled in TRICARE Prime Remote who do not live near a military hospital or clinic and for those active-duty service members travelling out of their service area.

“Meeting the acute care needs of the Fort Hood community is a priority for us. We want to ensure all of our beneficiaries receive the right type of care when they need it, without delay, and without having to deal with unexpected costs,” Zmijski said. “Active-duty Soldiers seeking immediate care should start with sick call or call their primary care manager. Often we can get them a same-day appointment within the CRDAMC footprint. Also, we now have an Urgent Care Center at CRDAMC, co-located in our Emergency Medicine Department, which Soldiers and their Family Members can utilize.”