Home LIFESTYLE TriWest vs.TRICARE : The Difference?

TriWest vs.TRICARE : The Difference?

TriWest vs TRICARE

With the similarity in their prefixes, it is quite easy to mistake TRICARE for TriWest or use the two interchangeably. However, there are certain differences between the two. Knowing the differences between these two terms will help you receive quick and efficient treatment. This is especially true if you’re a military veteran, an active member of duty service, a retired U.S. armed force, or a family member of any of the above categories.

Meanwhile, while there are differences between TRICARE and TriWest, there exists a similarity between them as well. Both programs provide treatment options for eligible members by connecting them to the rehab centers like Pacific Ridge. Pacific Ridge offers private alcohol treatment, including detox and inpatient treatment for addicts. Keep reading to discover the differences between TRICARE and TriWest, and how you can benefit from both.


TRICARE was previously known as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS). However, in 1996, the DoD started using TRICARE.

TRICARE is a health plan for military personnel and their family members. It was initiated by the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health Care System to offer comprehensive coverage to beneficiaries. Below are some of the advantages TRICARE offers military and veteran communities:

  • Health plans
  • Reproductive health services
  • Vision care
  • Dental plans
  • Medical care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Mental health services

Aside from the above, it also covers special needs. This service includes skilled nursing facility care, durable medical equipment, applied behavior analysis, home health care, and cancer clinical trials.


TriWest was created in 1996 and is a part of the Veterans Affairs Community Care Network (CCN). It offers healthcare services to veterans through community providers. TriWest covers health care services outside the VA providers, thereby enabling the U.S. military veterans to get health care directly within their community.

TriWest has been the third-party administrator for both region 5 and 4 of the VA’s CCN since 2014. Below are the locations under regions 4 and 5:

  • California
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Northern Mariana
  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Wyoming
  • Washington
  • Utah
  • Texas
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • North Dakota
  • New Mexico

Some of the Veterans TriWest cover include the following:

  • Former or current members of the National Guard
  • Veterans who were discharged honorably from the U.S. military
  • Reserves called by a federal order to active duty.

The current and major difference between TriWest and TRICARE is the beneficiaries. TRICARE serves members of active duty service, retirees, and their family members. TriWest, on the other hand, serves some members of the National Guard and Reserves and military veterans.

Another difference between TRICARE and TriWest is the location they cover. While TRICARE covers eligible beneficiaries in all locations, including the whole of the U.S. and other countries, TriWest is currently restricted to regions 4, and 5 of the VA’s CCN mentioned above. However, this difference will be changed in 2024 when the updated version of TRICARE takes effect.

Who is a Retiree?

Former service members who served with the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, or Navy on active duty for at least 20 years are referred to as retirees. A retiree may also be someone unable to serve for 20 years due to a certain disability incurred while on duty.

Who is a Veteran?

People who have served for a specific duration on active duty with the Air force, Army, Marine Corps, or Navy and were not dishonorably discharged are known as veterans. According to the above definition, retirees can also be referred to as veterans, but veterans may not be retirees.

Does TriWest or TRICARE Cover Mental Health Care?

Fortunately, both TRICARE and TriWest cover mental health, which includes the following:

  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
  • Outpatient therapy (group, individual, and family)
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Residential rehab for addiction
  • Medication management services
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
  • Home health care
  • Eye exams
  • Chiropractic care
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Ancillary services like laboratory, x-ray
  • Office-based substance use disorder treatment
  • Inpatient detoxification

Veterans can find the above services at a VA facility; otherwise, they can go to the Community Care Network. They can get care at a care center affiliated with TriWest.

Hopefully, with the above information, you can clearly distinguish between the two. However, if you need additional information, there are many sources of information available, including their official websites. If you are eligible for the TRICARE and TriWest services and you feel you need help, ensure you visit a professional treatment center to begin your assessment.

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