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Tricare Help: Army Reserve health coverage shifts while on active duty

Mar. 12, 2014 - 11:36AM   |  
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The March 3 Tricare Help column incorrectly described the rules for military retirees who turn age 65 and become eligible for Medicare but intend to continue working. Such beneficiaries stay under their employer-sponsored health plan and delay entry into Medicare without worrying about the Part B late enrollment penalty. However, they temporarily lose Tricare coverage until they stop working and enroll in Part B. Any Tricare-eligible family members of such retirees may continue to use whatever Tricare options they qualify for during that time.

We apologize for the error.

I have joined the Army Reserve, and my basic training and Advanced Individual Training start next month. I don’t have health insurance now. What do I need to know about Tricare? Also, can I cover my parents and siblings?

A. While on active duty in basic training and AIT, you will be fully covered by the military for all your health care needs for free. Once you transition into drilling status in the Army Reserve, your only Tricare option will be Tricare Reserve Select, which requires enrollment and payment of monthly premiums.

If and when you are mobilized for active duty, you would again become eligible for full, free military health coverage. Once you demobilize, you’d revert back to Tricare Reserve Select, with one exception: If you are mobilized in support of a contingency operation such as Operation Enduring Freedom, you’d be eligible for six months of continued free health coverage after demobilization through something called the Transitional Assistance Management Program. After those six months, you would then revert back to Tricare Reserve Select.

Siblings of service members are ineligible for Tricare. Parents are ineligible except in limited circumstances when they are dependents of the military splnsor. Spouses and children of service members are eligible.

Q. My retiree husband thought he couldn’t cover my daughter, whom I have full custody of, under his Tricare unless he legally adopted her. We recently found out she can be covered as long as we’re married. But can she be added to his Tricare coverage if she’s also eligible for coverage under her biological father’s employer plan?

A. A service member or retiree indeed can register a stepchild for Tricare coverage as long as the member or retiree is married to the stepchild’s parent. There is no legal authority that would deny coverage in situations like yours merely because the child has access to other coverage.

If you and the biological father kept your child under his insurance as well as Tricare, the other insurance would pay first, and Tricare would act as a secondary backup payer. If you took her off the other coverage, Tricare would be her primary coverage.

In order for your child to use Tricare benefits, your husband must properly register her in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. He can visit the ID Card/DEERS office on any military installation or by calling the main DEERS support office in California at 800-538-9552.

Write to Include the word “Tricare” in the subject line and do not attach files.

Answers by RallyPoint

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