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New health plan extends care for activated reservists

WASHINGTON -- Health care for reservists gets a booster shot April 25. That’s when a premium-based health care plan starts for those activated for a contingency anytime since 9/11.

Department of Defense officials announced Tricare Reserve Select at a Pentagon news conference March 24.

“We are committed to providing the proper combination of compensation and benefits that will allow us to attract and retain the world’s best fighting force,” said Charles Abell, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

TRS offers a bridge for reservists entering or leaving active duty who are not covered by a civilian employer or other health insurance plan. It’s similar to Tricare Standard and comparable to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan for federal employees.

Monthly premiums for a reservist are $75. A reservist and family pays $233. Premiums will be adjusted annually.

Air Force reservists must serve on active duty for 90 consecutive days or more on or after Sept. 11, 2001, in support of a contingency. And, they must enter an agreement with Air Force Reserve Command to serve in the Selected Reserve for one or more years before leaving active duty. If they got off active duty, they have until Oct. 28 to apply.

Reservists earn one year of care for every 90 days of continuous active-duty service and every year of service commitment. For example, reservists with 360 days of qualifying active duty can get four years of coverage if they sign up for four years in the Selected Reserve.

Coverage ends when the service agreement ends. It stops sooner if the reservist separates from the Selected Reserve, voluntarily withdraws from the program or fails to pay the monthly premiums.

The Tricare Web site -- www.tricare.osd.mil/reserve/reserveselect -- will have more details. To get updates by e-mail, reservists and their families can subscribe to www.tricare.osd.mil/tricaresubscriptions/.

For reservists enrolled in the Transitional Assistance Management Program, coverage will start the day after TAMP ends.