Mobilized Reservists May Retain Employers' Family Healthcare
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2001 Federal law provides mobilized Guard and Reserve members the opportunity to keep their employer-sponsored healthcare coverage.
If the employee will be absent for more than 30 days, the employer may require the employee to pay the entire premium cost plus a 2 percent administrative fee.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 allows mobilized reservists to keep health insurance provided through their civilian employer for up to 18 months, said Air Force Col. Kathleen Woody, director of medical readiness and programs with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.
"The employer could continue to provide coverage at no cost to the employee," she said. If the employer requires the reservist employee to pay the whole tab, however, coverage could be cost prohibitive for many families, she acknowledged.
For members who elect healthcare for their families under TRICARE programs, USERRA allows them to return to their civilian employer insurance plans with no waiting period or penalty for pre-existing conditions (other than service- connected conditions, which are covered by the military)," Woody said.
"For example, if a reservist elects to get his family care under TRICARE while he's activated and his daughter subsequently is diagnosed with diabetes, he can still go back to his employer healthcare plan under the same conditions as before he was mobilized," Woody explained. "The family would be covered as if the reservist employee had never left."
Employees with questions about their rights under this act should contact their agency's human resources department or visit the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Web site at www.esgr.org.