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Selective Reserve Dental Program Announced

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 1997 – Members of the Selective Reserve with at least 12 months of service remaining will soon be eligible for low-cost dental insurance.

Under a five-year contract beginning Oct. 1, the TRICARE Selected Service Dental Program will cost enrollees $4.63 a month the first year; the government kicks in $6.53 a month. Officials expect modest annual increases, but the total contract price is dependent on the number of reservists who enroll. About 889,000 reservists are eligible.

The government's estimated share of total costs over a five-year period is $81.3 million.

The plan will offer diagnostic, preventive, oral surgical and emergency dental services to reservists, including retired reservists not yet drawing retired pay. It won't cover family members. Enrollees will be charged co-pays for surgical work, ranging from 10 percent to 30 percent for E-4s and below, and from 20 percent to 40 percent for all others. The maximum annual benefit for all services cannot exceed $1,000 worth of paid allowable charges per contract year, officials said.

Because many reservists don't routinely draw monthly drill pay, all new enrollees will be charged the first four months' premiums up front and must enroll for a full year. After the first year, they will be able to enroll month to month. Reservists in "pay" billets will have their share of the monthly premium withheld from their monthly drill pay. When drill pay isn't available, they will make payments directly to the contractor, Humana Military Healthcare Services of Louisville, Ky.

Enrollees subsequently called to active duty for more than 30 days will lose the coverage but will be refunded unused premiums. If otherwise eligible, they may re-enroll after the active duty period ends.

This is the first TRICARE contract awarded under new, streamlined procurement procedures, officials said. The new method cut contract processing time from more than a year to less than six months. Similar to processes used in the private sector, the procedures emphasize end results, with less paperwork and fewer requirements placed on the contractor.

A similar program for active duty retirees and their dependents also is slated to begin Oct. 1, but a contract has not been let.

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