Note: I am neither an accountant nor a lawyer. None of this constitutes tax or legal advice and is for informational purposes only. I have tried to make the information that follows as accurate as possible, but I can’t guarantee that it hasn’t changed since the last editing of this post. This information is based on my understanding of the applicable rules, regulations, and research.
In order to answer the question of if Tricare eligibility means you can’t have an HSA depends on whether or not you had an HSA before you became eligible for Tricare.
No HSA Before Tricare = Not Eligible(For Now)
If you did NOT have an HSA before you became eligible for Tricare, then you can’t have an HSA because you do not meet the eligibility requirements for opening an HSA.
HSA Before Tricare = You Can Keep It Probably Can’t Pay For Anything With It
If you had an HSA prior to being eligible for Tricare then you can still have that HSA while covered under Tricare. Just because you became eligible for Tricare doesn’t mean your HSA magically disappear.
However, just because you get to keep your HSA doesn’t mean that you can contribute to your HSA or use the funds in your HSA to pay for your Tricare copays.
In order to be able to contribute to your HSA you have to have a high deductible health plan and no other insurance among other things. As soon as you get Tricare, that automatically disqualifies you for contributing. The first year you have Tricare you will probably be eligible to contribute a portion of the maximum contribution, for the part of the year that you weren’t covered under Tricare, as long as you met all of the other requirements.
As far as paying for medical expenses with it once you have Tricare, that is an entirely different topic. You will be fighting a tough battle since everyone associated with Tricare is going to automatically assume that you can’t have an HSA since you are using Tricare and won’t realize that you had the HSA before you became Tricare eligible.
As a result of this, the rules and procedures probably haven’t been fleshed out in regards to this and you will receive an automatic “no”. The VA used to not allow you to use an HSA to make your VA copayments, but have since changed their policy and will allow you to use an HSA in some instances.
Tricare might follow along and allow the Tricare participants who had HSA’s before becoming Tricare eligible to make their copayments with their HSA, but there is not guarantee of this happening.