When did Tricare Reserve Select Start? – A Simple Guide

by | UCMJ | 1 comment

Navigating the world of military health benefits can often feel like deciphering a complex puzzle. Among the myriad of options available, Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) stands out as a crucial component for members of the Reserve and National Guard. But when did this pivotal program kick off? Understanding its origins not only sheds light on its importance but also helps appreciate the evolution of military healthcare.

Launched in 2005, TRS marked a significant milestone in extending comprehensive healthcare coverage to those not on active duty. This initiative was a game-changer, offering a level of security and support that was previously out of reach for many reservists and their families. Let’s dive into the journey of Tricare Reserve Select, exploring its impact and how it’s shaped the landscape of military benefits over the years.

Understanding Tricare Reserve Select

Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) emerged as a pivotal healthcare solution for members of the Reserve and National Guard in 2005, bridging a significant gap in military healthcare benefits. Before TRS, healthcare options for reservists not on active duty were limited, often leading to substantial out-of-pocket expenses. This program’s initiation marked a turning point, offering reservists and their families affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage—a benefit paralleling what active-duty members receive.

Eligibility for TRS extends to members of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve who are not eligible for or enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. This inclusion criteria ensures that reservists who might not have access to other forms of affordable healthcare can rely on TRS for their medical needs. The program covers a wide array of services, including preventive care, prescriptions, and hospitalization, providing peace of mind to service members and their dependents.

The cost of TRS is significantly lower compared to civilian health plans, with premiums and cost-shares that are competitively priced. For many reservists, TRS is a cost-effective way to ensure healthcare coverage for themselves and their families without the financial burden typically associated with private health insurance plans. Premium rates are set by the Department of Defense and can vary annually, allowing the rates to remain in alignment with healthcare costs and budgetary constraints.

To enroll in TRS, eligible members must complete specific application procedures, which include submitting the required forms and selecting a coverage start date. Enrollees can then access healthcare services through TRICARE-authorized providers, hospitals, and pharmacies, ensuring they receive high-quality care across the TRICARE network.

Understanding the foundational aspects of TRICARE Reserve Select is crucial for appreciating its role in enhancing the healthcare landscape for reservists and their families. By providing accessible, affordable healthcare coverage, TRS plays an essential part in supporting the overall well-being of the Reserve and National Guard community.

The Origin of Tricare Reserve Select

Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) began its journey in 2005, marking a pivotal development in military healthcare. Before TRS, reservists and National Guard members lacked a comprehensive, affordable healthcare option similar to what active-duty personnel enjoyed. The introduction of TRS addressed this gap, offering significant healthcare benefits and enhancing the support system for reservists, their families, and their overall well-being.

Prioritizing health care for reservists, the United States Department of Defense launched TRS as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. This legislation recognized the increasing reliance on Reserve and National Guard members and the necessity of providing them with healthcare benefits akin to those of their active-duty counterparts. The essence of TRS’s inception lies in acknowledging the sacrifices and contributions of reservists, ensuring they receive adequate healthcare coverage whether they are deployed or not.

Key to TRS’s foundation was its focus on affordability and accessibility. By setting premiums and cost shares at levels significantly lower than civilian healthcare plans, TRS ensured that reservists and their families could access quality health care without the burden of exorbitant costs. This approach not only supported the health of reservists but also provided peace of mind regarding healthcare affordability.

Moreover, TRS’s establishment in 2005 facilitated a seamless healthcare experience for reservists. By offering a range of services including preventive care, inpatient and outpatient services, prescriptions, and dental options, TRS ensured comprehensive care. This breadth of coverage under TRS mirrored the care available to active-duty members, bridging the healthcare gap between reservists and their full-time counterparts.

In essence, the origin of Tricare Reserve Select in 2005 was a landmark event. It underscored the United States’ commitment to its military personnel, ensuring Reservists and National Guard members received the healthcare they deserve. By providing an affordable, comprehensive healthcare solution, TRS played a crucial role in supporting the well-being and readiness of the Reserve and National Guard community.

Enrolling in Tricare Reserve Select

Enrolling in Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is a straightforward process designed to ensure Reserve and National Guard members gain access to the healthcare coverage they need with minimal hassle. The eligibility criteria and enrollment steps are crucial to getting started with TRS.

Eligibility Criteria

To enroll in TRS, you must be:

  1. A member of the Selected Reserve or the National Guard,
  2. Not on active duty orders or covered under the Transitional Assistance Management Program,
  3. Not eligible for or enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program.

Meeting these criteria makes you eligible for comprehensive healthcare coverage at affordable rates, acknowledging your service and sacrifices.

Enrollment Steps

Follow these steps to enroll in TRS:

  1. Registration: First, register through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). It’s essential for verification of your eligibility.
  2. Application: Complete the TRS application form, which you can find on the official Tricare website or through your unit’s personnel office.
  3. Premium Payment: Submit your initial premium payment alongside your application. TRS premiums are significantly lower than civilian healthcare plans, making it an affordable option for reservists.
  4. Confirmation: Once your application and payment are processed, you’ll receive a confirmation letter and your TRS member card, indicating you’re officially enrolled and eligible to use the services.

Remember, you can enroll in TRS any time during the year, not just during a specified enrollment period. This flexibility ensures you can access healthcare coverage when you need it the most.

By providing preventive, inpatient, outpatient care, and prescription services, TRS plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health and readiness of Reserve and National Guard members. Enrolling in TRS is your step toward securing the healthcare coverage you deserve, echoing the program’s commitment to affordability and accessibility.

Benefits and Coverage of Tricare Reserve Select

Exploring the depth of Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) uncovers a broad spectrum of benefits and coverage designed to support the health and wellness of Reserve and National Guard members. As part of your enrollment in TRS, you gain access to a variety of healthcare services that align closely with those available to active-duty military personnel, ensuring you receive the comprehensive care you deserve.

Key components of TRS coverage include:

  • Preventive Care Services: Stay ahead of potential health issues with preventive care services, such as vaccinations, health screenings, and wellness exams at no extra cost.
  • Inpatient and Outpatient Care: Whether you need a hospital stay or just a visit to a specialist, TRS covers both inpatient and outpatient care, giving you peace of mind during recovery periods.
  • Prescription Coverage: Access to necessary medications is convenient and affordable with TRS’s pharmacy benefit, including both home delivery options and local pharmacy pickups.
  • Dental Options: Through the optional TRICARE Dental Program, you can opt for additional dental coverage, safeguarding your oral health and wellness.
  • Mental Health Services: Addressing mental health is crucial; TRS provides coverage for counseling sessions, substance use disorder treatment, and other mental health services to support your well-being.

Moreover, TRS mirrors the active-duty healthcare experience by allowing you to seek care from military hospitals and clinics if space is available, in addition to a vast network of civilian healthcare providers. This flexibility ensures that you can receive care closest to where you live or work, fitting seamlessly into your lifestyle.

Understanding these benefits and coverage areas of TRS will guide you in maximizing your healthcare services and maintaining your health readiness, a critical component of your role in the Reserve and National Guard. With TRS, you are equipped with a robust healthcare safety net, enabling you to focus on your duties without the added stress of healthcare uncertainties.

Costs Associated with Tricare Reserve Select

Understanding the costs associated with Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is crucial for Reserve and National Guard members. TRS provides access to a range of health services, mirroring the offerings available to active-duty personnel but involves distinct cost structures.

Enrollment Fees

TRS requires an annual enrollment fee, which is a fixed rate for individuals and families. As of 2023, the annual fee for member-only coverage stands at $47.20, while the fee for member and family coverage is $238.99. These fees are subject to change annually, reflecting adjustments in healthcare costs and policies.

Monthly Premiums

In addition to the enrollment fee, TRS participants pay monthly premiums. For individual coverage, the monthly premium is approximately $47.20, and for family coverage, it’s around $238.99. These premiums ensure continuous access to healthcare services under TRS and are directly debited from the member’s designated account.

Cost Shares and Co-Payments

After meeting the annual deductible, TRS members encounter cost shares and co-payments for different services. The annual deductible varies based on rank and is lower for E-4 and below. Outpatient visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs each have specific co-payment amounts. For network care, cost shares are considerably lower, encouraging the use of Tricare’s extensive provider network.

  • Deductibles: $50 for individuals, $100 for families for E-5 and above; $52 for individuals, $104 for families for E-4 and below.
  • Outpatient Care: Typically involves a co-payment of $15 for primary care and $30 for specialty care per visit.
  • Hospitalization: Features a cost share that generally ranges from $18 per day to a maximum of $25 for the entire stay, depending on the service and rank.

Prescription Coverage

Prescriptions fall into several tiers, with generic drugs incurring the lowest co-payment and non-formulary drugs the highest. At military pharmacies, medications are available at no cost, while civilian pharmacies and TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery offer low co-payment options for up to a 90-day supply.

These cost components form the financial framework of TRS, offering a balance between comprehensive coverage and affordability. As TRS costs are adjusted over time, members are encouraged to stay informed about the latest rates to effectively manage their healthcare expenses.


Understanding Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) is crucial for Reserve and National Guard members seeking comprehensive and affordable healthcare coverage. With benefits mirroring those of active-duty personnel, TRS stands out as a valuable option. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the enrollment criteria and the costs involved, including premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. Keeping abreast of the latest rates ensures you can manage your healthcare expenses effectively. Embrace the benefits TRS offers and take proactive steps towards securing your health and financial well-being.



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