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ARLINGTON, Va. — Tricare Reserve Select premiums are increasing about 8 percent next year for enrolled National Guard troops and reservists, according to defense health officials.

Individual rates are going up from $75 to $81 per month in 2006; family premiums are expected to increase from $233 to $253 per month.

The program allows one year of coverage for every 90 consecutive days of active duty. Reservists and guardsmen must enroll in the program before leaving active duty.

About 24,000 people are covered under Tricare Reserve Select, Tricare spokesman Michael Elliott wrote via e-mail Thursday. While on active duty, reservists and guardsmen can opt for health care services under regular Tricare coverage.

Federal regulation requires that the program’s premiums be adjusted annually in accordance with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Federal Employee Health Benefits Program premiums, Elliott wrote.

According to Tricare guidelines, the program applies to previously activated National Guard and reserve troops who have received orders since Sept. 11, 2001, for support of contingency operations, such as Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Enrollees must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty, and completed a service agreement to remain in the Selected Reserve, the fact sheet says.

Tricare Reserve Select coverage includes emergency care, prescription drug coverage, maternity services and ancillary services, such as laboratory and radiology, according to a program fact sheet.

The program was stated in fiscal 2005, Elliott wrote. Unlike other Tricare programs, enrollees must pay premiums that account for 28 percent of the annual cost of the total coverage, as per federal regulation, he wrote.

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