Reserve and National Guard families will be included as beneficiaries for the new TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) beginning Feb. 1, 2001 under Department of Defense policy guidelines. This will significantly expand the number of Reserve forces personnel eligible for TDP.
One important new feature will allow Reserve and National Guard members called to active duty in support of contingency operations to sign their family members up for the TDP by excluding them from the mandatory enrollment period.
"The TDP will be a tremendous benefit to National Guard and Reserve personnel in the very near future," said Charles L. Cragin, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "And the new policy guidelines will significantly improve the readiness of Reserve force families."
Under the current program, all military personnel are required to have at least 24 months remaining on active duty to enroll in the TRICARE Family Member Dental Plan (TFMDP). The new program will reduce this mandatory enrollment period from 24 months to 12 months of Service commitment. It also will combine the TFMDP and the TRICARE Selected Reserve Dental Program (TSRDP). For Reserve and National Guard members, this means more covered services than were available under the TSRDP and a larger provider network.
Since 1995, more than 30,000 Reserve force personnel have served on involuntary active duty tours to support presidential Reserve call-ups for Bosnia, Kosovo and Southwest Asia. Reserve and National Guard personnel ordered to active duty in support of contingency operations are limited by statute to serving an active duty tour of 270 days or less.
"The TFMDP mandatory enrollment period has precluded these reservists from enrolling their families in the TFMDP," said Cragin. "Without the new guidelines, reservists who cannot afford to pay the full premium for continuing their civilian dental plan would be denied family dental coverage while on active duty."
The new policy guidelines for TDP were recently published in the Federal Register. The program will be administered through a new contract with United Concordia Companies Inc.
"Contingency operations are ongoing and the new dental program will be a significant benefit for Reserve families in the near future," Cragin said. "The authority to waive the mandatory enrollment period demonstrates our commitment to military readiness. If our families receive better care, the more ready our Total Force will be."
For additional information, please call Army National Guard Col. Terry Jones at (703) 693-8617 or visit the Reserve Affairs web site at http://dod.mil/ra .