Health Insurance Considerations for Military Servicemembers

Service and employer health plans. Active duty personnel have coverage through the military, as do reservists and National Guard members after 30 consecutive days of active service. Many reservists and National Guard members, however, have health coverage for themselves and their families through an employer-sponsored health plan, and some may wish to continue that coverage, particularly for their dependents, during their active duty period. Talk with your benefits administrator at work to learn what will happen with your health coverage if you are called to active duty. While employers are not required to pay the cost of health coverage for you and your dependents while you are on active duty, some employers may choose to continue benefits at their current level.

If your employer does not continue paying the cost of your health coverage, you are entitled to continue the coverage at your own cost under federal law. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) both allow you to continue coverage for yourself and your dependents for up to 18 months, however, you may be required to pay 102 percent of the full premium for coverage. Any person covered by the health plan may choose to continue coverage even if others who are covered do not. This means, for instance, that your spouse could continue coverage through USERRA and COBRA even if you do not.

If your employer discontinued your health coverage and you return to the company directly after your military deployment, federal law requires that you be allowed to resume plan membership without any type of waiting period.

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