By Ashley Nation
In early 2022, the Air Force passed a new regulation that would allow pregnant Airmen more privacy during their gestation period. The military has made another change concerning reproductive health. Uniformed service members, retirees, and some military family members who are under TRICARE could be eligible for the complete covering of the tubal ligation cost. The Defense Health Agency stated that this coverage will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

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Tubal Ligation Cost, Procedure, and History

Tubal ligation is a female sterilization surgery, also commonly referred to as the “tubes tied surgery.” In this procedure, the fallopian tubes are either cut or tied to permanently prevent pregnancy. Active-duty military members have been able to get tubal ligations at zero cost at military hospitals but have been met with much reluctance from military doctors. This new benefit extends beyond military hospitals to procedures done by civilian doctors for active-duty military members, reservists, and retirees.

Does TRICARE Cover Getting Your Tubes Tied?

In the past, the procedure has been available at a copay, along with Vasectomies, but it will now be covered without cost sharing as a “clinical preventive service benefit.” If you’re enrolled in TRICARE Select, Young Adult, Reserve Select, Prime, or Retired Reserve, this benefit will be available to you. If you’re under TRICARE For Life, you may still be required to pay a copay, especially if the procedure is done by an outside provider. TRICARE is available worldwide, and this specific benefit is unaffected by the standard tubal ligation laws in each state.

The Military’s Hand in Reproductive Healthcare

This new benefit is able to completely cover tubal ligation costs because it falls under what the Department of Health and Human Services considers women’s preventative health services through the Affordable Care Act. TRICARE is actually not required to cover contraception without cost-sharing, unlike other private insurers, but this benefit isn’t surprising in the national debate around Roe V. Wade. TRICARE is not allowed to cover abortions except in specific cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is in danger. They are, however, eliminating copays for intrauterine birth control in 2023 and expanding their contraception clinics for both men and women.

Is Tubal Ligation Right for You?

It’s amazing that many won’t have to worry about tubal ligation costs, but if you’re thinking about it, make sure you still carefully consider if this surgery is right for you. Tubal ligation is a good choice if you’re completely sure that you’ll never want any children at all. Ever. Despite conversations here and there about the procedure’s reversal, most doctors agree that the chance of effective reversal is extremely slim. This is a permanent surgery, so if you have any doubts, you may want to look for a non-permanent contraceptive. Deciding on a tubal ligation is solely your decision. With the new options for a $0 tubal ligation cost, it can look more attractive to those who’ve felt the procedure was too costly in the past. Weigh all the options you have available to you, and don’t be afraid to consult your doctor with any questions to ensure you have all the proper knowledge.

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