Extended Care Health Option (ECHO)

What is the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO)?

In 2005, TRICARE replaced the Program for Persons with Disabilities with the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO).  ECHO provides financial assistance to eligible beneficiaries who qualify, based on specific mental or physical disabilities, and offers services and supplies not available through the basic TRICARE program.  In this way, eligible family members access these services and supplies through ECHO as a supplement to TRICARE.


What benefits can ECHO offer my family?

Once a family member qualifies and is registered with ECHO, ECHO provides financial assistance through a cost-share program, which is monthly and based on the sponsor’s pay grade. This financial assistance can be used for a variety of services and equipment.

Services:

  • Assistive services (e.g. qualified interpreter)
  • In-home respite care services (please see section below)
  • Home Health Care (please see section below)
  • Medical and rehabilitative services
  • Training for assistive devices
  • Special Education, including Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy
  • Transportation in limited circumstances
  • Institutional care when a residential environment is required
  • Equipment
  • Durable equipment, including adaptation and maintenance
  • Assistive technology devices


What is included in ECHO Respite Care?

Respite care provides relief for caregivers of special needs dependents. ECHO beneficiaries qualify for 16 hours of respite care a month, to be administered in the home by a TRICARE authorized home health agency. During respite hours, the caregiver may leave the home. Note that respite care is authorized only when the beneficiary is receiving some other ECHO benefit during the same month.


What is included in ECHO’s Home Health Care?

ECHO also includes extended home health care and respite care for caregivers of special needs dependents whose condition renders them homebound. EHHC allows for licensed or registered nurses to provide skilled home health care in excess of 28 hours a week. Speak to your regional contractor or TRICARE Area Office to determine the maximum monthly limit (cap) for EHHC home care benefits.

Respite care under EHHC allows for a maximum of eight hours, five days per week of respite care, which may be used as a sleep benefit. Respite care under EHHC cannot be used in conjunction with ECHO’s respite care.


What are the costs associated with ECHO?

The monthly benefits maximum has increased from $1,000 to $2,500. In addition, the cost-share liability was not adjusted. Monthly cost-shares range from $25 to $250, depending on the sponsor’s pay grade. Finally, per fiscal year, the maximum government cost-share is $36,000. The ECHO Home Health Care may be subject to special rules, so please contact your ECHO representative for details.

There are some rules governing when and how ECHO funds may be used. Your regional contractor must obtain prior authorization for all ECHO benefits. Without exception, all services, supplies, and equipment must come from a TRICARE authorized provider. You may be required to provide documentation (via Public Facility Use Certification) that public assistance is not available through your local community. Please contact your regional contractor or TRICARE Area Office for more details.


How do I enroll in ECHO?

Families are required to be enrolled in their Service’s Exceptional Family Member Program in order to register for ECHO benefits. If you qualify for special needs benefits, speak to an EFMP representative, who will ensure your proper enrollment in EFMP and provide appropriate ECHO contact information.

In order to qualify for ECHO benefits, dependents of an active duty service member must have a qualifying condition. Contact your regional managed care support contractor to determine program eligibility and details.


Will ECHO benefits follow my family from one location to another?

Unfortunately, ECHO benefits do not automatically transfer when your family’s active duty sponsor is reassigned. You must obtain new ECHO benefit authorizations before receiving services at a new location. Contact your regional contractor, local MTR, TRICARE Area Office, or case manager BEFORE you move to ensure a smooth transition.

Can reservists and retirees access ECHO?

ECHO coverage is available for dependents of active duty military members who are enrolled in Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). Retired service members can not receive ECHO benefits for their childre.

Accessed through the military healthcare program, TRICARE provides support for military families that have a child on the autism spectrum through the military healthcare program, including provision of autism services provider of autism through ECHO. Unfortunately those services are only available to reservists on active duty.

For the children of reservists to receive ECHO benefits, their parent must be on active duty for more than 30 days. If a parent is on active duty, he or she can enroll in EFMP and then enroll with ECHO through TRICARE. Once the parent is off active duty, the child may no longer access services through ECHO.

Accessed through the military healthcare program, TRICARE provides support for military families that have a child on the autism spectrum through the military healthcare program, including provision of autism services provider of autism through ECHO. Unfortunately those services are only available to reservists on active duty.

Because the majority of reservists do not serve on active duty for lengthy periods of time, their access to ECHO is intermittent at best. For this reason, it is very important that military reservists’ dependents with autism spectrum disorders be enrolled in early intervention programs and special education services through the public schools. This will provide some continuity of services if the child can no longer receive supplemental services through ECHO. 

ECHO coverage is available for dependents of active duty military members who are enrolled in Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).

Accessed through the military healthcare program, TRICARE provides support for military families that have a child on the autism spectrum through the military healthcare program, including provision of autism services provider of autism through ECHO. Unfortunately those services are only available to reservists on active duty.

For the children of reservists to receive ECHO benefits, their parent must be on active duty for more than 30 days. If a parent is on active duty, he or she can enroll in EFMP and then enroll with ECHO through TRICARE. Once the parent is off active duty, the child may no longer access services through ECHO.

Accessed through the military healthcare program, TRICARE provides support for military families that have a child on the autism spectrum through the military healthcare program, including provision of autism services provider of autism through ECHO. Unfortunately those services are only available to reservists on active duty.

Because the majority of reservists do not serve on active duty for lengthy periods of time, their access to ECHO is intermittent at best. For this reason, it is very important that military reservists’ dependents with autism spectrum disorders be enrolled in early intervention programs and special education services through the public schools. This will provide some continuity of services if the child can no longer receive supplemental services through ECHO.