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WASHINGTON — A simplified Tricare Reserve Select program open to all guardsmen and reservists will debut Oct. 1, a move that will also ease paperwork headaches for those coming off active duty.

But those non-activated troops with the reserve health care plan must re-enroll before that October launch to make sure they don’t lose their coverage.

The move, mandated by Congress last year, provides an across-the-board health care plan similar to the active-duty coverage but open to all reservists and guardsmen, regardless of combat experience or employment status.

“The idea is to make sure there is coverage available to all members of the armed forces,” said Bonnie Powell, a spokeswoman for Tricare.

The only group excluded are those reservists and guardsmen who are eligible for Federal Employee Health Benefits, or are already enrolled in that program.

Previously, Tricare Reserve Select had three tiers of coverage, the least expensive for troops coming off an active-duty tour.

Now all enrollees will pay $81 a month for personal coverage or $253 a month for family coverage, a sharp drop from the $247 per month personal coverage and $767 per month family coverage currently available under the most expensive plan.

Guardsmen and reservists called to active duty are eligible to enroll in the standard Tricare coverage available to full-time military personnel.

Under the old rules, those troops when coming off active duty had a small window — in some cases only 90 days — to sign up for the program at the least expensive rates, or they would default to the most costly tier.

But Powell said since the program is dropping down to only one price plan, those reservists won’t face a financial penalty for signing up later. But they still will need to meet those deadlines to make sure they have continuous medical coverage.

Current enrollees in the plan have been sent letters informing them of the changes and the need to re-enroll before Oct. 1, Powell said. However, if they miss the deadline the new program does feature year-round enrollment, so they can reapply with only a short break in their coverage.

For more information, visit www.tricare.mil.

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