Summary of National Guard & Tri Care Reserve Benefits

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.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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13 thoughts on “Summary of National Guard & Tri Care Reserve Benefits”

  1. I think that TriCare is a pretty good deal compared to most insurance companies out there. The rates are fair and the service is very high. You have few deductibles and can choose your own doctor. My family and I have used Tri-Care Reserve for almost four years now and have not once had a problem with it.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Wanda. It is better than having no insurance at all. Everything you mentioned is true. We’ve used several different insurance companies and most of them are three to four times the cost of Tri-Care.

  2. I think Tri-Care is a great insurance program. I have it for my family and if you were to compare what we get to private insurance companies, I would probably pay four times as much! Best of all, you can choose your own doctor, too!

  3. Tricare is pretty complicated because of politics and budgeting. In 2005, Paul Ryan voted against a motion to expand access to the military’s TRICARE health insurance program to thousands of reservist and National Guard members. In March 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, told a National Journal forum that senior military commanders were dishonest in presenting Congress with a budget request he doesn’t believe they fully support. That was not taken very well as anyone can imagine. 154 military service members committed suicide and 136 U.S. troops died in combat in Afghanistan according to, a website that tracks combat casualties. Medical care and the affordable insurance to take care of it are what our soldiers deserve. (I am not anti Paul Ryan, just sharing facts about the relationship between Tricare and politics.)

    1. It is definitely a political issue. With all the innovation and growth in our country, I’ve always wondered why their wasn’t affordable health care for the masses.

  4. Neil O'Donnell

    I like to see that military personnel and their families have options like TRICARE. Providing medical benefits is the least we as a nation can do for service members. Given the complexities of military medical coverage, I would suggest commanding officers determine who is most familiar with the regulations/benefits and always direct subordinates to that medical liaison. Do not delay figuring out where to send subordinates for information, because healthcare issues are going to arise.

    1. TriCare is a good program for Reserve Soldiers. For about $200 a month a Soldier can have health insurance for his family. That is pretty good. However, there are some upcoming changes to TriCare, where the government is talking about raising the prices.

  5. I’ve heard some horror stories about people trying to crack that nut that is tricare, but with these simply outlined tips and bits of advice I feel like I can easily direct those with questions right here. Great job.

    1. Thank you for the compliment and comment, Kevin. There are great resources, as I’ve stated previously, and communication and asking questions is the best way to gain understanding. A question unasked is a question without an answer.

    2. My wife and I have had Tri-Care for about four years now and we love it. Most of the things we need are covered. It’s much better than the plan we had with her company where we had so many out of pocket expenses.

  6. TRICARE can be real tricky to understand at first. I love the way the TRICARE reserve benefits are made a bit more easy to understand through the summary of this post. There are also great resources available out there, including HUMANA TRICARE information and the TRICARE Website. Great post!

    1. I always tell people to educate themselves first so they can be a smart consumer. There is plenty of information available online about Tri-Care Reserve. All you have to do is take the time to look.

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