Guest Post by Lauren Oliver
The Army National Guard and Military Reserve—meaning National Guard, Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and U.S. Coast Guard Reserve—offers medical and dental benefits to all service members through TRICARE Reserve Benefit Programs.
TRICARE beneficiaries are split into 2 groups: the sponsor and the family members. Sponsor refers to the service member, and the family members include spouses, children, or other dependents. Any sponsors that are applying for TRICARE benefits must first have their eligibility status recorded and determined by DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System).
Eligibility for Tri-Care benefits depends on status:
- If the service member is on active military duty for less than 30 days—the service member is eligible to enroll in TRICARE Reserve Select, which is a voluntary and premium-based health plan with comprehensive health coverage for the service member and their family. The service member will also qualify for Line of Duty Care for any injury or illness sustained while in the line of duty or traveling to or from their place of duty.
- When activated—when the service member is called to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days, they are eligible for the same medical and dental benefits as active duty members. The service member will enroll in one of the following PRIME options when they reach their final duty station: TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Prime Remote, TRICARE Prime Overseas, and TRICARE Prime Remote Overseas.
- When deactivated—when a service member leaves active duty, the benefits that are available are different, depending on whether the service member was deployed in support of a contingency operation. Service members in this scenario are automatically and immediately covered by the TAMP (Transitional Assistant Management Program) for 180 days. Once TAMP ends, the service member is able to purchase TRICARE Reserve Select for themselves and their family. If the service member is not eligible for the TRICARE Reserve Select they may purchase the Continued Healthcare Benefit Program. The service member continues to be covered by the active duty dental plan, and once TAMP ends they have continued enrollment with the TRICARE Dental Program. The service member’s family’s coverage continues without break.
- Early eligibility—with Early Eligibility the service member must have proof of forthcoming deployment, they must have already been coded, recorded, and determined by DEERS, and the eligibility immediately ends when and if deployment is cancelled. Service members with Early Eligibility have 2 options to choose from: they may enroll in TRICARE Prime and choose to receive treatment on base if they live within an hour of the facility. RC members may also choose not to enroll in TRICARE Prime and instead seek covered primary care from a civilian medical provider.
Once DEERS is updated with the RC member’s enrollment information, the service member’s family becomes eligible for benefits as well. This ensures that the RC members’ families’ medical and dental needs are taken care of as well as the RC (Reserve Component) members.
When searching for more information about eligibility and the different programs that are available to RC members, it is best to look at government and federal information of benefits sites such as Humana Military and the TRICARE website.
If you find any of this information is lacking, please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section. Also, if you have any questions, you can ask them there too.
About the Author: Lauren is a stay at home mom currently working from home as a freelance writer. She is certified in Education with a background in education, writing, and tutoring to help students develop their educational skills. She comes from a military family and writes articles about education, military life, and personal development.