04 Sep Loss of Sensory Faculties
This provides an overview of the various ways in which TRICARE health care plans can cater to those who have lost different sensory faculties, such as the blind or those who are deaf or mute.
Sensory faculties allude to the mental and physical capabilities through which the external world is apprehended and understood. Sensory faculties include the senses of eyesight, hearing, speaking and touch. Among the military circle, the most common loss of sensory faculties includes the loss or complete/partial absence of sight and the loss or complete/partial absence of hearing. Being blind and/or deaf is no picnic in the park as it is; being in the military on top of being blind and deaf is another case altogether.
Under TRICARE coverage, blindness, deafness vision and speech impairment come under disabilities claims and it provides circumstantial (not complete) coverage to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries. These include military sponsors and their family members who are afflicted with a loss of sensory faculties.
What assistance is given to the blind?
Severely Blind and disabled military men and women as well as veterans and their family members qualify for limited benefits, coverage and assistance under TRICARE. It depends on the type of coverage that you have. Medically necessary vision coverage and benefits are in place in all medical plans. Vision benefits depends firstly on what type of beneficiary you are, secondly on your age and finally on what kind of TRICARE plan is in use. Vision care under the TRICARE plan is limited and may include eye exams, glasses and contact lenses for vision weakness or impairment.
As TRICARE is limited for vision related care, there are even military hospitals, which do not accept TRICARE at all, vision related, medical procedures. TRICARE offers limited coverage for eye surgery and treatments, including surgery for corneal dystrophies, surgical procedures to diagnose, treat or cure strabismus, keratoplasty and treating glaucoma. However, TRICARE does not cover Orthoptics, visual training and refractive cornea surgery.
What assistance is given to the deaf?
Deafness is a common ailment, which affects a large number of the world’s population. It is the third most common type of physical ailment after heart disease and arthritis. While deafness has multiple causes, one of which is a congenital birth defect, hearing loss can also occur because of military service. After suffering such a setback, one is rendered incapable of serving in active duty and as such this type of hearing impairment can be found in retirees and veteran soldiers.
Under the TRICARE plan programs, limited not complete hearing loss treatment and rehabilitation packages are available. Eligible TRICARE beneficiaries will be able to acquire and utilize all medically authorized necessary and complete services and supplies to assist in the proper management and treatment of hearing loss and impairment. It will include hearing examinations by authorized providers, hearing aids (replacement of hearing aids is also covered) and therapeutic exercises to ameliorate the situation. This benefit extends beyond military beneficiaries to their family members as well. Eligible beneficiaries who fear that they themselves or any one of their dependent family members is suffering from hearing loss should immediately contact and make an appointment with their primary care provider for an exam. They will then be sent to an audiologist for further tests and treatment.
What assistance is given to the mute?
As is the norm or standard, complete speech loss is a major impediment in getting enlisted in the army. Individuals who are mute unfortunately do not make the cut during military enrollment procedures. As it happens, complete muteness is a birth defect and is irreversible. Therefore, TRICARE does not offer a plan to cover muteness for military sponsors; however, certain types of speech impairment treatment and management plans are covered under TRICARE and are available to all eligible TRICARE beneficiaries.
Types of speech impairments covered under TRICARE include voice and articulation disorders. TRICARE covers speech therapy to improve, restore and maintain function and to prevent further deterioration. Speech therapy includes treatment of speech, language and voice dysfunctions, which arise as a result of birth defects, medical disease and anomaly, trauma and injury, hearing loss and other types of developmental disorders. However, TRICARE coverage does not include speech disorders arising as a result of educational or occupational hazards such as Tongue thrust therapy, Special education and therapy programs aimed for dependents from the age of three to twenty one.
Extended Care Health Option
ECHO is an additional, supplementary medical coverage program subsidized by TRICARE for military and non-military beneficiaries. It covers services that are not available through the standard TRICARE program plans. It provides financial support to dependents with special needs and whose needs are not met in regular, traditional plans. ECHO is available for usage to the same types of dependents who use TRICARE. However, in order to qualify for ECHO, special criteria has to be met. One such qualification merit is that the beneficiary seeking ECHO must have a severe and serious physical disability.
Hence, Blindness, Deafness and Muteness all qualify for TRICARE ECHO benefits and in addition to simple TRICARE coverage, can also receive assistance via the ECHO subsidiary. The assistance becomes two fold and is more comprehensive and in addition to regular benefits, includes rehabilitation programs, device training services, special education, transportation, institutional care and in-house services.