To expand the capabilities of the nation's active duty forces, the Department of Defense (DOD) relies on the 1.2 million men and women of the Reserve and National Guard. Currently, reserve components constitute nearly half of the total armed forces. Although DOD requires reservists to use TRICARE DOD's health care system for their own health care, using TRICARE is an option for their dependents. Nearly 80 percent of reservists had health care coverage when they were not on active duty, according to a GAO survey. The most frequently cited sources of coverage were civilian employer health plans and spouses' employer health plans. Few dependents of mobilized reservists experience disruptions in their health coverage--primarily because most maintained civilian health coverage while reservists were mobilized. Ninety percent of the reservists with civilian health coverage maintained that coverage. The 5-year cost of the coverage options delineated in the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act range from $89 million, for expanding the transition benefit allowing mobilizations, to $19.7 billion, for continuous coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to ensure that reservists, as a part of their ongoing readiness training, receive information and training on health care coverage available to them and their dependents when mobilized.|
|Department of Defense||2. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to provide TRICARE assistance during mobilizations targeted to the needs of reservists and their dependents.|