Is Tricare Reserve Select Prime or Standard? Comparing Health Plans

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Navigating the world of military health insurance can feel like a maze. You’re trying to figure out the best coverage for you and your family, and you’ve stumbled upon Tricare Reserve Select. But is it Prime, or is it Standard? Understanding the distinctions is crucial to making an informed decision that aligns with your healthcare needs and lifestyle.

Tricare Reserve Select stands out as a premium option for members of the Reserve Component, including the National Guard and Reserve members. It offers comprehensive coverage, but knowing exactly how it fits into the broader Tricare system is key. Whether you’re looking for routine care, emergency services, or specialty treatments, getting clear on what Tricare Reserve Select entails is your first step. Let’s dive into the essentials, ensuring you’re equipped with the knowledge to navigate your options confidently.

Understanding Tricare Reserve Select: An Overview

Delving into Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) offers an essential insight into military health insurance for Reserve Component members. Unlike Tricare Prime and Tricare Standard, TRS serves as a premium-based health plan specifically designed to bridge the gap for reservists who do not qualify for active duty health plans yet seek comprehensive healthcare coverage.

TRS stands out for its flexibility and affordability, making it a preferred choice for many in the reserves. Members pay monthly premiums and certain out-of-pocket costs, but in return, they gain access to a vast network of providers and healthcare services. This includes routine care, emergency services, and specialty treatments, ensuring reservists and their families receive the medical attention they need without the financial burden often associated with private health insurance.

One of the pivotal aspects of TRS is its eligibility criteria. To enroll, you must be a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and not eligible for or enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. This makes TRS particularly valuable for reservists who lack access to other forms of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Coverage under TRS is comprehensive, providing benefits comparable to Tricare Prime and Standard, albeit with different payment structures. Enrollees enjoy the liberty to choose their healthcare providers within the Tricare network, offering a balance between cost and freedom not found in the more rigid Tricare Prime network.

For reservists considering TRS, understanding these differences is crucial. By aligning healthcare needs with the benefits provided by TRS, reservists can make informed decisions about their healthcare, ensuring they and their families are well-protected, both in terms of health and financial well-being.

Eligibility for Tricare Reserve Select

Understanding your eligibility for Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is crucial in leveraging its comprehensive coverage benefits. As a reservist, TRS opens the door to a wide array of healthcare services, provided certain conditions are met.

Firstly, TRS is available to members of the Reserve Component, including the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve. However, eligibility hinges on your status:

  • Not on Active Duty: You must not currently be on active duty orders.
  • Not Covered Under the Active Duty Health Plan: If you or your family members are not enrolled in an active duty health plan, you’re one step closer to qualifying for TRS.
  • In Good Standing: Maintaining a satisfactory status in your respective Reserve or National Guard unit is a prerequisite.

For family members to qualify for TRS coverage, they must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). This system verifies your and your family’s eligibility for military benefits, including TRS.

Enrollments and activations, especially during periods of active duty, play a significant role in determining eligibility. If activated under federal orders for more than 30 days, reservists and their families become eligible for the Tricare Prime or Select plans, akin to active-duty members. Upon demobilization, transitioning back to TRS requires attention to specific timelines and procedures to ensure continuous coverage.

Understanding these eligibility criteria is pivotal to maximizing the healthcare benefits TRS offers. With its focus on flexibility, affordability, and a broad provider network, TRS stands as a valuable healthcare solution for both reservists and their dependents, ensuring their health and financial well-being are safeguarded.

Coverage Under Tricare Reserve Select

Exploring the specifics of coverage under Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) unveils a wealth of benefits tailored to meet the needs of reservists and their families. TRS bridges the gap between military service and civilian life by offering health care coverage that’s both comprehensive and adaptable. When you’re enrolled in TRS, you gain access to an array of health services designed to ensure your well-being and readiness.

  • Routine Care: Regular check-ups, preventive services, and general practitioner visits fall under routine care. TRS covers these essential health services, making it easier for you and your family to maintain optimal health without worrying about the costs.
  • Emergency Services: In the event of an emergency, TRS provides coverage for necessary medical treatments and procedures. Whether it’s a sudden illness or an accident, you’re assured that emergency services are accessible and covered.
  • Specialty Treatments: For conditions requiring the expertise of specialists, TRS covers consultations and treatments from healthcare professionals across various disciplines. From cardiologists to orthopedic surgeons, your access to specialty care is a priority under TRS.

Prescriptions play a critical role in maintaining one’s health, and TRS ensures you and your family have access to the medications you need. The coverage includes a wide range of prescription drugs, making it convenient to manage both acute and chronic conditions.

Mental health services form an essential part of TRS coverage, acknowledging the unique challenges military life can present. From counseling sessions to treatment for more severe mental health issues, TRS supports your psychological well-being.

It’s important to remember, certain elective procedures and cosmetic surgeries might not be covered under TRS. Always verify coverage for specific treatments by consulting TRS guidelines or speaking directly with a TRS representative.

By enrolling in Tricare Reserve Select, you secure a health care safety net for yourself and your family, ensuring that from routine care to emergency services and specialty treatments, your health care needs are comprehensively covered.

Costs Associated With Tricare Reserve Select

Understanding the costs associated with Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is essential, given its role as a vital health care option for reservists and their families. TRS operates on a premium-based system, designed to provide affordable, comprehensive coverage that bridges military service and civilian life requirements.

Monthly premiums for TRS are determined annually and vary for individual and family plans. As of the most current data, individual members pay a specific amount monthly, while members with family coverage see a higher rate to cover their dependents. These rates represent the base cost for enrollees to access TRS benefits, including routine care, emergency services, specialty treatments, prescription coverage, and mental health services.

In addition to monthly premiums, TRS policyholders encounter other out-of-pocket costs, including annual deductibles and cost-shares. Deductibles—a fixed annual amount participants must pay before TRS begins covering health care costs—differ based on the member’s rank and whether the plan is for an individual or a family. Following the deductible, cost-shares or co-payments for medical services are incurred, which vary depending on the type of service and location of care (in-network vs. out-of-network providers).

Prescription drug costs under TRS also entail co-payments, structured into a tier system based on the medication type (generic, brand name, non-formulary). These co-payments are relatively low, ensuring that prescription coverage remains affordable for beneficiaries.

For members seeking care from non-network providers, TRS operates under a Point-of-Service (POS) option, which incurs higher out-of-pocket expenses, emphasizing the plan’s preference for in-network medical services to maintain affordability and manage costs effectively.

Policyholders must periodically review their coverage and associated costs, as TRS premiums, deductibles, and co-payments are subject to annual adjustments. These adjustments ensure the plan’s sustainability while providing necessary health services to reservists and their families.

Comparison to Other Tricare Options

Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) suits reservists seeking a balance between cost and coverage, positioned distinctly among Tricare’s offerings. Key aspects set TRS apart from Tricare Prime and Tricare Standard (now known as Tricare Select).

  1. Eligibility and Enrollment: Tricare Prime targets active-duty service members, retirees, and their families, offering a managed care option with assigned primary care managers. Meanwhile, Tricare Select, available to the same groups plus reservists not activated or covered by TRS, serves as a preferred provider network. TRS’s eligibility focuses specifically on reservists not on active duty or covered under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP).
  2. Costs and Fees: Tricare Prime boasts lower out-of-pocket costs but requires enrollment fees for retirees and their dependents. Tricare Select, replacing the Standard option, offers more flexibility in choosing providers without referrals but often incurs higher costs for services. TRS features affordable monthly premiums, comparative to civilian plans, and cost-shares, striking a middle ground.
  3. Provider Network and Flexibility: With Tricare Prime, enrollees must use military or network providers and obtain referrals for specialists, limiting flexibility. Tricare Select users enjoy wider choices in providers and direct access to specialists, paralleling TRS’s approach. However, TRS members face higher costs when opting for non-network providers without pre-authorization, reflecting its Point-of-Service (POS) option’s implications.
  4. Benefits Coverage: All three plans cover similar medical services, including hospitalization, outpatient care, maternity, and mental health services. Prescription drug coverage also aligns across these options, with tier-based costs influencing out-of-pocket expenses.

Choosing between Tricare Reserve Select, Prime, or Select hinges on individual needs for flexibility, cost-control, and provider access. Evaluating each plan’s specifics ensures you and your family select the health care coverage that best aligns with your life circumstances.


Deciding between Tricare Reserve Select, Prime, or Select hinges on your unique needs. TRS offers an appealing mix of affordability and flexibility, making it a solid choice for those in the Reserve Component seeking comprehensive coverage without breaking the bank. Remember, the key to maximizing your benefits lies in understanding the specifics of your plan, from costs and provider networks to the POS option. Regularly reviewing your coverage will ensure it continues to meet your evolving health care needs. By weighing the pros and cons of each option, you’ll find the right fit for your situation, ensuring you and your family are well-protected.



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