‘Pay and benefit’ stocking stuffers

By Tom Philpott: PNT columnist

Readers familiar with this column know it typically focuses on a single news development affecting a lot of military people or veterans. The strength of that approach is that a critical issue can be covered pretty well.

Sometimes, however, there are waves of news requiring a roundup approach. In the spirit of the season, we’ll call these stocking stuffers, but some items here are important enough to win a place under the tree.

TRICARE RESERVE PREMIUMS FALL — Monthly premiums for drilling reserve personnel enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select will drop by 44 percent for individual coverage and by 29 percent for families on Jan. 1.

TRS premiums for individuals will fall to $47.51 a month, down from $81. Family coverage will be $180.17 instead of $253.

Why the drop? Congress established TRS in 2005 with the intent to set premiums high enough to cover the government’s cost to offer a health insurance option to drilling Reserve and National Guard members. Until the program ran for a while, however, there was no cost data on which to set premiums.