The Department of Defense just announced that beginning in April a new premium-based, health care plan will be available to eligible National Guard and Reserve members activated for contingency operations on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
According to Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, “This benefit compares most favorably with any health plan option available to our Reserve components. We hope that individuals will consider carefully the value of this benefit for themselves and their families as well as the commitment to our nation’s defense.”
Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2005 and, when purchased by a TRS eligible member, provides comprehensive health care coverage similar to Tricare Standard and Extra for the member and his or her eligible family members.
A National Guard or Reserve member’s personnel office will determine eligibility for TRS based on active service on or after Sept. 11, 2001. The service period must be for 90 consecutive days or more in support of a contingency operation and, prior to leaving active duty, the member must enter into an agreement with his or her Reserve component to serve in the selected Reserve for at least one additional year. For those members who already have left active duty, they must enter into an additional service agreement no later than Oct. 28, 2005.
Members are eligible for one whole year of TRS coverage for each whole year of service commitment in the service agreement, up to a maximum of one whole year of coverage for each 90 days of continuous active duty served in support of a contingency operation. For example, members who served a 360-day qualifying active duty period in the selected Reserve are eligible for four years of TRS coverage provided the member agrees to serve at least another four years in the selected Reserve.
TRS coverage for members and covered family members will end when the service agreement ends or sooner if the member separates from the selected Reserve, voluntarily separates from the TRS program or fails to pay the monthly TRS premiums.
Updated information on the TRS program (including program start date, eligibility, benefits and premiums) will be posted later this month on the Tricare Web site.
For those members who purchase TRS and also have health care coverage under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP), their TRS coverage will begin the day after their TAMP coverage ends.