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ROA Developing TRICARE Reserve Choice To Improve RC Healthcare

Posted By Reserve Officers Association, Monday, April 27, 2015
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2016

ROA developing TRICARE Reserve Choice to improve RC healthcare

Stop me if you have heard this one before.  A Reservist – let’s call her Tech Sgt. Munoz – is deployed for 90 days.  During that time her son’s healthcare is provided by TRICARE, and the Munoz family shifts there from their private-sector health care insurance program.  During the deployment Sergeant Munoz’s son is diagnosed with asthma and gets effective treatment from an excellent doctor.  After the deployment the Munoz family must leave TRICARE and re-enrolls in their private-sector insurance program.  Their new doctor chooses to re-diagnose.  From a different formulary, he uses a less effective prescription. The Munoz family is thrown into crisis. 

ROA is developing a legislative proposal (“language”) for a new program called “TRICARE Reserve Choice” that would prevent this crisis.

TRICARE Reserve Choice, with its 25 percent premium cost share, would ensure quality healthcare and – vitally important to many – continuity of care.  (The premium cost share is the cost of being enrolled in the health care program.  There would also be co-payments paid by the Reservist in TRICARE Reserve Choice.) 

A Reserve Component family covered by TRICARE Reserve Choice could choose from more plans and healthcare providers.  And in the case of the Munoz family, TRICARE Reserve Choice would have made switching between plans and doctors unnecessary.

A full examination of the costs of a TRICARE Reserve Choice plan hasn’t yet been made.  Such an appraisal may find that efficiencies would be driven by increased plan continuity and better preventative care among reservists who might otherwise not have good access to care.

ROA regards TRICARE Reserve Choice as the first step in the implementation of a TRICARE Choice program for all components of the military; replacing TRICARE Reserve Select with TRICARE Reserve Choice is an incremental step in the right direction.  TRICARE Reserve Choice would reduce the expense, frustration, and complexity that burdens healthcare for reservists.  By improving continuity and facilitating access, TRICARE Reserve Choice would increase the overall readiness of our armed forces.  

Reserve Component families would enroll in TRICARE Reserve Choice and continue their medical coverage without interruption, whether they are at their civilian job or performing military duty.  They would have continuity of care.

TRICARE Reserve Choice would enhance force readiness by ensuring Individual Ready Reserve members have healthcare.  Reservists with time remaining on their enlistment contract are assigned to the IRR.  Including them in TRICARE Reserve Choice would facilitate the medical care needed to be ready.  Reducing the disruptions and expense associated with switching plans could help reduce the overall cost of healthcare.

ROA supports offering TRICARE Reserve Choice coverage to “gray area” retirees for the sake of continuity as well as readiness. Gray area retirees are assigned to the Standby Reserve Inactive Status List; they are available for service until actual retirement at age 60 and are a national readiness asset.  Many gray area retirees, mostly in their 50s, may have difficulty finding work or for other reasons may not have access to affordable health insurance.  They are eligible for TRICARE Retired Reserve, but pay 100 percent of the cost of the premium.  Replacing that plan with TRICARE Reserve Choice would give them continuity and affordability.  Covering gray area Reserve Component members would be a clear expression of support from the nation these patriots dedicated their lives to serve.

TRICARE Reserve Choice would enhance national readiness by reducing barriers to quality care, improving continuity of care, and ensuring that Reserve Component members and their families have the healthcare they have earned through service.

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