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TRICARE program for gray area reservists on the way

Featured in National Security
TRICARE program for gray area reservists on the way
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Keith A. Stevenson

A new program will offer "gray area" reservists the opportunity to purchase TRICARE health care coverage.While qualified members of the Selected Reserve may purchase premium-based coverage under TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS), retired National Guard and Reserve personnel did not have TRICARE health coverage options until they reached age 60.

Under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, that's all changed.

 TRICARE Extra simply means beneficiaries have lower out of pocket costs if they use a network provider.

"We're working hard to coordinate all the details of eligibility, coverage and costs, and expedite implementation of this important program," said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity. "This is a major benefit program with implementation on the same magnitude as TRS. It will require detailed design, development and testing, but qualified retired reservists should be able to purchase coverage by late summer or early fall of 2010."

While the health care benefit provided for gray-area retirees will be TRICARE Standard and Extra - similar to TRS - the new program will differ from TRS in its qualifications, premiums, copayment rates and catastrophic cap requirements. The program is tentatively called TRICARE Retired Reserve.

The new statute requires premium rates to equal the full cost of the coverage. That is the major difference contrasted with TRS, where the statute provides that Selected Reserve members pay only 28 percent of the cost of the coverage. Premiums for the new gray area retiree program will be announced after program rules are published in the Federal Register.

This new program offers an important health coverage option for Reserve and National Guard members who served their country honorably before hanging up their uniforms at retirement, said Hunter. For more information about TRICARE benefits go to http://www.tricare.mil.

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