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thedrifter
08-07-07, 08:37 PM
Tricare boon for Guard, reserves due in Oct.
Change will reduce monthly premiums
Staff report
Posted : Tuesday Aug 7, 2007 19:46:44 EDT

Starting Aug. 11, drilling reservists and National Guard soldiers and airmen can sign up for a Tricare health insurance plan that will reduce their monthly premiums by hundreds of dollars, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Reserve said Tuesday.

The revised Tricare Reserve Select program becomes effective Oct. 1.

“All drilling reservists, including individual mobilization augmentees, will have access to the health-care benefit at its lowest premium rate,” Lt. Col. Alexander Alex, Air Force Reserve Command’s health benefits manager, said in a news release.

Under the system that ends Sept. 30, only reservists on or recently returned from a contingency operation qualify for the lowest premium rates in the three-tier Tricare system.

Everyone else paid higher rates, depending on their particular situation, with those in Tier 3 paying the most — $247 per month for the reservist alone and $767.41 for the reservist and family. These include people who haven’t been in a contingency recently, who are not self-employed, who work for an employer who offers a health care plan, or who do not qualify for unemployment compensation as determined by state law.

But as of Oct. 1, the premium will be $81 a month for single coverage and $253 per month for reservists and families. Tricare will adjust premiums annually Jan. 1.

“We’ve been working hard for years to improve health care benefits for all reservists, and this is a big step in that process,” said Maj. Gen. Allan R. Poulin, the Reserve Command’s vice commander.

As part of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Defense Department to restructure the plan’s three-tier payment system, which has been in effect since 2006. David S.C. Chu, deputy secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, signed the new policy Aug. 3.

The only reservists not affected by the new program are those in federal employment already, such as civil service workers who go back onto their existing health plan.

Ellie