A Complete Guide to Tricare Retired Reserve

Retired Guard and Reserve health care options differ from plans available to active duty members and retirees. Learn about your healthcare options when you retire, including Tricare, employer-sponsored healthcare plans, or health care options from the Private Exchanges.
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Picture of american eagle and stethoscope with the words "Retired Guard & Reserve Health Care Options"

Members of the Guard and Reserves have different healthcare options than active duty service members and active duty retirees. 

Non-activated Guard and Reserve members are eligible for Tricare Reserve Select, but if you retire from the Reserves early, you lose access to Tricare Reserve Select and gain access to another plan called Tricare Retired Reserve (TRR). 

Compared to other Tricare plans, Tricare Retired Reserve is notably more expensive. We’ve created this guide to review TRR 2024 premium costs, eligibility, benefits, and plan alternatives so you can decide whether it’s worth the investment. 

Tricare Retired Reserve Cost for 2024 

The following Tricare Retired Reserve premium costs are valid from January 1st, 2024, through December 31st, 2024. 

CoverageMonthly Premium
Service Member Only$585.24 per month
Service Member + Dependents$1,406.22 per month 

Tricare Retired Reserve Healthcare Plan Cost Breakdown 

The Retired Reserve Tricare plan includes a Catastrophic Cap, which is the most you (and any covered dependents) are allowed to pay out of pocket for covered health services. 

The 2024 Catastrophic Cap for the Tricare Retired Reserve plan is $4,399 per family. 

Money that you or any covered dependents spend on copayments, deductibles, and fees for covered services and pharmacy costs count towards the Catastrophic Cap. If you or your family spend more than $4,399 on covered services in a calendar year, your plan will kick in to cover the rest. Keep in mind that premium payments do not count towards the Catastrophic Cap. 

TRR has an annual in-network deductible of $188 per member and $377 per family. For out-of-network care, the annual deductible is $377 per member and $754 per family. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your insurance starts helping with the bills. They typically apply to bigger medical bills, such as hospital stays, surgeries, or major treatments, rather than routine doctor visits or minor medical expenses.

Let’s take a look at the Tricare Retired Reserve cost breakdown for covered services:  

Covered Services In Network CostOut of Network Cost
Primary Care Visit $3125%
Speciality Care Visit$5025%
Urgent Care Visit$5025%
Mental Health Visit$3125%
Emergency Room Visit$10025%
X-Ray and Laboratory $025%
Ambulance$75 25%
Hospitalization$21925%

For out-of-network providers, the coinsurance cost is 25%, meaning you have to pay 25% of the bill, and TRR will cover the other 75%. 

You can find a complete list of TRR pharmacy costs and cost information for covered services on this page.  

Why is Tricare Retired Reserve so expensive? 

Many service members note how high the premiums are for the Tricare Retried Reserve plan in comparison to Tricare Prime and Tricare Select. For example, the 2024 monthly premium for Tricare Select is $51.95 for an individual and $255.87 per month for a family — about 10 times as expensive as the current Tricare Retired Reserve premiums. 

The DoD has not released an official explanation. However, Tricare Retired Reserve may be priced higher because the majority of Reserve members who qualify for it are gray area retirees. Gray area retirement is a term that describes Guard and Reserve members who retired before age 60, which is when they become eligible for retirement pay and healthcare benefits.  

The higher prices for Tricare Retired Reserve might be a way for the DoD to encourage Reserve members to continue drilling instead of retiring before age 60. Retired Reserve members are eligible for Tricare Prime or Select from age 60 until age 65, when they would transition to Tricare for Life.  

Who is Eligible for Tricare Retired Reserve?

When you retire from the Guard or Reserve component, the Tricare plan you are eligible for is dependent on your age. 

You are eligible for the Tricare Retired Reserve plan if you are a retired Reserve or Guard member under the age of 60. Other eligible participants include family members of qualified Reserve retirees and eligible survivors of Reserve retirees. 

Survivors are eligible if: 

  • The Reserve retiree was covered by TRR when they died
  • They are immediate family members of the deceased Reserve retiree 
  • They are a Surviving spouse (who has not remarried)
  • The TRR coverage would begin before the deceased service member’s 60th birthday 

TRR applicants also cannot be enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.

If you are between ages 60 to 64, you are eligible for Tricare Prime or Tricare Select. Note that Reserve retirees are only eligible for Tricare Prime if they live within a certain distance of a military installation or regional healthcare center. If you live outside of a designated area, you would only be eligible for Tricare Select. 

Once you turn 65, you become eligible for Tricare for Life, a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Program. 

If you are living overseas, you should contact Tricare Overseas customer service to learn more about your eligibility. Guard and Reserve members living overseas can qualify for Tricare Retired Reserve, but Tricare Overseas will handle your enrollment. 

Guard or Reserve retirees who were on active duty at the time of retirement may also be eligible for the Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) or the Continued Healthcare Benefit Program (CHCBP). These supplemental healthcare programs help ensure that service members don’t experience a lapse in coverage during transitionary periods. 

Tricare Retired Reserve Benefits 2024

Tricare Retired Reserve’s plan benefits don’t differ much from Tricare Select or Prime plans. TRR offers many covered care options, including primary and specialty care visits, emergency services, and mental health coverage. However, for vision and dental coverage, Guard and Reserve retirees will have to seek care outside of the TRR plan. 

Mental Health Coverage

Mental health and therapy services are included in the Tricare Retired Reserve plan with applicable copayment and deductible fees. Covered services include inpatient stays, mental health outpatient visits, residential treatment facility (RTF) stays, and in-patient hospitalization. 

Is Dental and Vision Coverage Included?

Dental coverage is considered an add-on and is not included in the Tricare Retired Reserve plan. Prior to November 2018, Military dental care was offered through the Tricare Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), however, this plan is now closed. 

As of 2024, retired Guard and Reserve members can find dental and vision coverage through the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). All retired Reserve members and their families are eligible for dental coverage through FEDVIP, but only retired Reserve members enrolled in a Tricare health plan can get FEDVIP vision coverage. 

How To Enroll for Tricare Retired Reserve

You can enroll for Tricare Retired Reserve online, over the phone, or in person. 

To apply for TRR online, go to the milConnect Web Portal and choose “manage health benefits.” You can login to the portal using your Common Access Card (CAC), DFAS (MyPay) Account or your DoD Self-Service Logon. 

To enroll for TRR over the phone, call the East or West Region contractor number. If you live overseas, you can find the number for the country you’re living in on the Tricare Overseas website

RegionNumberStates Covered
East1(800) 444-5445Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa (Rock Island area), Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri (St. Louis area), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (excluding El Paso area), Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
West1(844) 866-9378Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa (excluding Rock Island arsenal area), Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri (except St. Louis area), Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas (El Paso area), Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Overseas Reserve members may also enroll for Tricare Retired Reserve in person at your nearest Tricare Service Center.

Is Tricare Retired Reserve worth it? 

Depending on your situation, it can be worth it to purchase Tricare Retired Reserve. 

If you do not have a current employer and can’t purchase coverage through your spouse’s employer, TRR could be your best option – especially if you are close to 60. Remember, once you reach 60, you can enroll in Tricare Prime or Tricare Select, which are considerably more affordable than Tricare Retired Reserve.

For further advice, you should contact a Tricare advisor. There should be one at each Military Treatment Facility, or you can find one nearest to you and contact them by phone

Alternatives to Tricare Retired Reserve

If Tricare Retired Reserve is out of your price range, it might pay to shop around for non-military health insurance

Your first move should be to check if your employer or your spouse’s employer offers health insurance. If that isn’t an option, you might be able to find more affordable care through healthcare.gov’s Health Insurance Marketplace (available in most states). 

If you can find a plan through Marketplace that is cheaper than Tricare Retired Reserve, you may be able to qualify for assistance to lower your monthly premium. Keep in mind that the assistance is only available if you’re not currently enrolled in a Tricare insurance plan. You can find more information here

Another alternative is a healthcare sharing ministry. Instead of traditional insurance premiums, members pay monthly “shares,” which are used to cover medical expenses for eligible members (with applicable guidelines and restrictions). These organizations also satisfy the federal mandate to maintain healthcare coverage.

You should thoroughly research healthcare sharing ministries to understand how they work and see if they could be a good option for what you need. 

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    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jacqueline, a Tricare Ombudsman is a liaison who helps members resolve complaints or other issues. Try contacting the Tricare customer service line if your local military installation doesn’t have someone specific for this role.

  1. Joanne W. Porcher says

    I am a retired Air Force Reservist of 30 years. I retired at age 60. I receive my check from the Air force monthly, what are my benefits with Tricare 4 life. I received information but have never asked what my benefits are. I turned 70 on February 18, 2020. I have been retired for 10 years now. I am still employed at my civilian job, and was scheduled to retire in June of this year after working there for 39 plus years. I presently receive SS Checks. I am in the Medicare system. Please let me know if I have any benefits with Tricare or it is only in effect after I retire from my civilian job.

  2. Mary Pelzer says

    Hi Ryan,
    What is the latest regarding the widow of a diseased 20 year Army veteran? I want to marry a civilian who served 2 years in Vietnam in the Army Medical Corp.

    Will I get dropped out of Tricare For Life?

    Thank you for your help!!

  3. Joe says

    Thank you for the information. I have 5 more years before I can retire from the Air Force reserves. I was going to retire as soon as I was eligible, but may have to stay since the cost of retired insurance is so ridiculously high.

  4. Pamela Rickey says

    Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for putting together such detailed information. It is helpful to see it all in one place. However, I am afraid the section for ages 60-64 is very inaccurate. There is a plan, called Tricare Plus (not Tricare Prime) that is available to those who may live close to a military hospital or clinic, BUT only if that particular military hospital has chosen to participate. And, if the retiree chooses the Tricare Plus plan, that is the only hospital (military or otherwise) they can go to, unless they are given a referral for treatment they cannot receive through that hospital. On the plus side, there are no premiums or out-of-pocket costs.

    There are some restrictions as to who can enroll in Tricare Plus, such as, you cannot enroll if you are already enrolled in Tricare Prime.

    The main plans available to the 60-64 age group are Tricare Prime or Tricare Select. With Tricare Prime, you are not treated at a military hospital. Tricare assigns an in-network physician as your primary care physician. There is an annual enrollment fee of $297 for an individual or $594 for a family (cost for 2019). There are also co-pays but no deductible or out-patient services. All care not able to be provided by the primary care physician must be done through referrals by the PCP. For care outside of the PCP or referrals, there is a point-of-service option, but the cost of doing so is much higher. For example being hospitalized without the referral would leave the insured with 50% of the cost and does not count towards the out-of-pocket cap.

    Tricare Select is another option. There is no enrollment cost and the insured can go to any doctor or specialist without referral. The insured pays an annual deductible ($150 individual or $300 family) and slightly higher co-pays on doctor visits, as long as they stay in-network. Going out-of-network has higher co-pays. Out-of pocket hospitalization cost and some other treatments, such as mental health care is much higher with Tricare Select. However, both Tricare Select and Tricare Prime have a catastrophic cap of $3000. Several companies offer Tricare supplemental plans for those with Tricare Select, usually covering 100% of what Tricare does not pay after meeting a deductible.

    Reserve and Guard retirees who live overseas are also eligible for Tricare Select Overseas, but not Tricare Prime Overseas.

    I hope this is helpful.

  5. Arvil W. Burnettek4dfl says

    I joined the National Guard in 1952 and I left in 1973 (20 years). The only active duty time was about 400 days. I am paid a retirement pay and Tricare health insurance. My age now is 84 years old. I would like to know if I could get help such as a ramp to get into my home and some type of powered wheelchair.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Arvil,

      Thank you for your question. The best thing to do is to contact a veterans benefits counselor at the VA or with a Veterans Service Organization. They have counselors who offer free, individualized claims assistance. They can review your claim, your service periods, medical conditions and other factors and help you apply for benefits or an upgrade to your current rating.

      I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  6. Steve says

    Got a problem sir. The folks at DEERS and Tricare tell me I’m eligible for Tricare, but when I try to sign up it tells me I’m ineligible. I am a Former Member USAFR receiving retirement pay, but I can’t retire due to some glitch in the system. I was discharged in ’06, and was never assigned to Retired Reserve list. I’m now 60.5 y.o., and according to the application process since I’m not retired I’m ineligible for Tricare. Can someone give me a straight answer?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Steve, Thank you for contacting me. I recommend contacting Air Force Personnel Command (AFPC) to verify they have your retirement information recorded correctly on their end. That information should transfer to DEERS, DFAS, and other agencies. If they do have your information registered correctly, then they should be able to point you to the next organization in the chain and help you get to the bottom of this. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

  7. Kenneth Sullivan says

    Sir,

    Hello and good day to you

    I am a gray area retired reservist and have 3.5 years to go to full retirement(AGE 60)

    The last time I checked on G.A. ret. Reserve , the price was $969 a month……Really!?! Even a retired O-6 would have a problem with this premium and as a result of this outrageously expensive price, my wife opted to stay on her own medical plan and told me to get individual coverage thru Tricare

    I read on one page of this forum that the individual Tricare premium was $361 and then down on the next page it reads $391?

    Also, if I signed up for gray area retiree Tricare, would it be Tricare standard?

    What is the difference between Tricare standard and Tricare premium?

    Also, what is Tricare Reserve Select?

    I noticed you are with the Illinois Air Guard

    Are you in Springfield?

    I am an Illinois native currently living and working in California

    I appreciate this forum you have offered to assist us Reserve and Guard brothers and sisters to inform us about our military benefits

    Thank you and thank you for your service

    Ken

    USAR SSG ret.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Kenneth, Thank you for contacting me. Gray area retirees are eligible for TRICARE Retired Reserve, which is different than TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Standard (though it’s closer to TRICARE Standard in its form). Because it’s different, you would need to compare premiums and doctor and service availability in your location to make sure it’s a good plan for you.

      The premiums listed on this site may have changed, so I recommend verifying with TRICARE before buying a plan. The current monthly premiums for an individual are $388.79/mo as of July 18, 2016 (rates will most likely change on October 1, 2016).

      These premiums appear high because the military only offers subsidized premiums for those who are actively serving in the Guard or Reserves. Those who are no longer actively serving can still participate in the plan, but they don’t receive any subsidies. In other words, they pay the same price the government pays.

      I agree, close to $1,000 per month for a family plan, or close to $400 per month for an individual is a lot of money. However, it may not be much more expensive than other non-subsidized health care options, or even some employer sponsored health care plans. Most health care premiums are based on age and whether or not the individual is a smoker.

      I recommend looking at some of the other options available, including through your employer (if employed and your employer offers health care), through your spouse’s employer (if you are eligible to be on her plan), through the Affordable Care Act exchanges (subsidies may be available depending on your income), or through an independent health insurance provider. I have used eHealthInsurance to find my last few health care plans. Unfortunately, health care is expensive, just about every place you get it. I hope this points you in the right direction. I wish you the best, and thank you for your service!

      • JG says

        “, through the Affordable Care Act exchanges (subsidies may be available depending on your income)”

        Subsidies will not be available since he qualifies for Tricare Reserve Retired. I already checked into this with the Affordable Care Act office. That was one of the loopholes adversely impacting Gray Area retirees.

  8. Nate @ LendEDU says

    I have a friend who is getting out of the military next month. He and his wife are really concerned about how much losing TriCare Reserve Select is going to affect them financially. I will be sure to pass this information along to them. Thanks!

  9. Walter Stewart says

    I will be age 60 this July 2015. When will I receive my packet to go to the nearest base and get my Retirees ID Card and one for my wife. I was told Three months before I am age 60. All my information is on DEERS and any time I moved from one address to the other. I always made sure that DEERS was updated with my information.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Walter, Thank you for contacting me. I would go with the information you have received. You can also call DEERS to verify when you should receive the packet, and which information or documentation you should bring with you.

  10. Anthony Darmiento says

    Ryan, please get the word out to Ret-2 gray area Reservists that they would not qualify for the Affordable Care Act subsidy since they are “eligible” for Tricare Retired Reserve (TRR). I contacted the ACA office and they stated even if I was to disenroll from TRR that I would still not qualify for the subsidy.

    That begs the question why did the political drafters of the Affordable Care Act legislation not factor in low income earners who are in Ret-2 gray area status ?

  11. Anthony says

    Can a retired reserve member (before age 60) qualify for subsidies for the Affordable Care Act if he decides to buy healthcare on the federal exchange? He would have an annual income that is less than $45,000.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Anthony, Great question. I believe the veteran would be able to do so, as I am not aware of any restrictions for the subsidy that revolve around having access to health care through other means. The key is going to be the number of people in the household. Here is the income chart for eligibility for subsidies.

      If there is only one person in the household, the individual could qualify for a subsidy with income up to $46,680. So he would just make the cutoff. I hope this helps. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

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