Photocopying military ID acceptable for TRICARE

by Shari Lopatin
TriWest Healthcare Alliance

10/27/2009 - PHOENIX -- When the doctor's office asks for a military ID card and makes a copy, it's OK - and usually necessary.

To receive medical care, servicemembers and their families need to show their eligibility for TRICARE. Although those who enroll in TRICARE Prime will receive a TRICARE Prime ID card, the key to showing eligibility is the valid military ID card.

Servicemembers and their families will need their military ID card for medical care, pharmacy benefits and dental care. Many times, the doctor may copy the military ID card for the patient's records and to confirm TRICARE eligibility when submitting a claim.

Federal law prohibits photographing or making prints of military ID cards unless it is to receive medical treatment; a valid military ID card is proof of TRICARE eligibility and can be photocopied. Like everything else in a patient's record, it is protected by law.

If a patient is visiting a specialist, such as a heart doctor, they may have additional forms to fill out, just as at any first-time doctor's visit. The patient should tell the receptionist they have TRICARE; the receptionist may ask for their military ID card, which is acceptable just as a doctor's office might photocopy a private insurance card. Usually, a beneficiary's primary care doctor won't need to see a military ID card.

Servicemembers should be aware, however, that copies of their military ID cards cannot be made for substitute cards, or for any other purpose than to show their TRICARE eligibility to receive medical treatment.

Patients on Prime and Prime Remote can request a TRICARE card via TRICARE's Beneficiary Web Enrollment site at or at The card will be sent to the patient's mailing address listed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

To replace a military ID card, service members should visit their nearest military ID card office, which can be found at