Military Reserve, National Guard, going on Active Duty?
Answers to healthcare questions for service members with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi coverage
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi appreciates your service to our State and Nation. We will work with you to give you the information you need to keep the level of healthcare coverage that best suits your personal situation.
When you enter active duty, you can choose to continue your Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi healthcare coverage or you can cancel it, with certain rights to reinstate it when you are released from active duty. This document explains the rules governing your rights.
The Federal law known as USERRA gives you specific rights regarding health insurance. (USERRA stands for the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.) State law also gives you specific rights. (This is Section 83-5-91 of the Mississippi Code.) You have the right to continue your health insurance coverage when you are released from active duty, regardless of your health condition at the time you are released, without imposing any pre-existing medical condition exclusions or waiting periods.
Because of these laws, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi needs to know of any covered person (subscriber or dependent) who is given orders to active duty. We also need to know if any covered person enrolls in TRICARE, the military's health plan.
WHAT YOU MUST DO: If your insurance is through an employer or other group coverage, tell your group's insurance coordinator of your orders to active duty and who under your policy will be covered by TRICARE. Your group will send the change of status to us on our Military Status Change Form.
If your insurance is through an individual policy, call our Customer Service Department at 601-664-4590 or 800 -942-0278 and tell us of your orders to active duty and who under your policy will be enrolled in TRICARE. We will send you a Military Status Change Form, or you can download the form from this page to send us your changes.
Q. Can I keep my Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi coverage while I am on active duty?
A. Yes. While you are on active duty, you can keep Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi coverage for yourself and for your dependents, under rules shown below. If you are covered through TRICARE, we will be the primary insurance while TRICARE serves as secondary coverage.
For how long?
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi coverage in this situation can continue for the lesser period of:
- 24 months from the date the employee leaves for military duty; or
- the day after the employee fails to apply for or return to a position of employment.
Possible new costs:
If the active duty service is less than 31 days, you cannot be asked to pay more than your normal share of the insurance premium.
If your active duty service is 31 days or more, your employer can require that you pay 102 percent of the normal insurance premium (including the employer's normal share), which is the same as the premium allowed under federal COBRA laws.
WHAT YOU MUST DO: To continue your coverage, you need to continue paying your premium and you must let us know who under your policy is covered by TRICARE.
Q. If I cancel my Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi coverage when I go on active duty, will I be able to renew my coverage when I am released from active duty?
A. Yes. Under USERRA, if your employer is still offering Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi coverage when you are released from active duty, we will provide you and your dependents with health care coverage, without imposing any pre-existing medical condition exclusions or waiting periods.
WHAT YOU MUST DO: In every case, we need to receive a completed Military Status Change Form for us to reinstate your coverage. See additional information below.
Group policies: If you are insured through a group, you must tell your group that you plan to cancel your health care coverage. Upon your release from active duty, you must let your employer know of your intent to resume employment in this way:
- If active duty was less than 31 days, you need to tell your employer of your intent to return within eight hours of your release from active duty.
- If active duty was between 31 days and 180 days, you need to tell your employer of your intent to return within 14 days of your release from active duty (or the next business day after 14 days).
- If active duty was more than 180 days, you need to tell your employer of your intent to return within 90 days after your release from active duty.
However, If your group has stopped offering group health insurance to its employees while you were on active duty, we will provide you with the option to enroll in a non-group policy if you give us the appropriate notice that you would have given your employer.
Individual policies: If you are insured through an individual policy, we will reinstate the coverage you had before you left upon your release from active duty, without imposing any pre-existing medical condition exclusions or waiting periods, as long as you give us the appropriate notice as shown above.
Employers note regarding information about USERRA and COBRA
For employers covered by COBRA, individuals' COBRA rights still apply as long as they are covered by the group plan. An employer must continue to determine when a qualifying event occurs, and who is a qualified beneficiary.
An individual's spouse or dependent child who would lose coverage under USERRA because of a qualifying event (such as the death of the covered employee) must be given the opportunity to continue their coverage under USERRA for a maximum period of 36 months from the date of the qualifying event.
The 18 months of coverage under USERRA does not extend the maximum coverage period.
For information on TRICARE benefits to which you and your dependents may be entitled, please visit the TRICARE website at http://www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/ or by calling the TRICARE Information Service toll-free at 1-888-363-2273.
This document should not be construed as legal or professional advice or as an opinion on specific facts.
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