Activating Soon? Your TRICARE Options May Change


Are you a member of the National Guard or Reserve? If so, you may become eligible for active duty medical and dental benefits when called or ordered to active duty under federal orders for more than 30 days. Your family members also become eligible for active duty benefits.  

Activating is a change in your sponsor status. This is a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE). This means you may not be able to continue your existing coverage. The QLE allows your family to change health plans during the 90 days following your activation date.

When you arrive at your duty station, you’ll enroll in a TRICARE Prime plan.

As new active duty family members, your eligible family members will be automatically enrolled in one of two plans:

Family members have 90 days from the date of the automatic enrollment to change their health plan. In addition to TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select, your family’s health plan options may also include:

If you’re enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS), your coverage ends when you activate. You’ll get a refund for premiums paid after your activation date. When you deactivate, you may purchase TRS again if you still qualify. If you’re eligible for the TRICARE Assistance Management Program (TAMP), then you may purchase TRS after your TAMP eligibility ends.

Dental Coverage

Active duty service members get their dental care at military dental clinics. They may also get civilian dental care through the Active Duty Dental Program. Your family may enroll in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP). If they already have TDP, they’ll begin to pay active duty premiums.

Pre-Activation Benefits

You may get delayed-effective-date active duty orders for more than 30 days. These would be for a preplanned mission or in support of a contingency operation. In that case, you and your eligible family members may qualify for early TRICARE eligibility. Early TRICARE eligibility means you get active duty benefits:

  • On the date your orders are issued, or
  • 180 days before you report to active duty, whichever is later

If you don’t qualify for early eligibility, you and your family’s active duty TRICARE coverage will begin on the date of your active duty orders.

Be sure to update your and your family members’ information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). If DEERS isn’t up to date, you may miss important information or lose your TRICARE coverage.

To find out more about your coverage options when you activate, check out the TRICARE Choices for National Guard and Reserve Handbook. Learn more about QLEs on the TRICARE website and take command of your health.
At the time of posting, this information is current. For the most recent information, contact your TRICARE contractor or local military hospital or clinic.

Last Updated 10/14/2021