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Tricare Dental Coverage Slated to Increase in 2017 with New Contractor

Military dental benefits for active-duty families, National Guard and Reserve members and their families will see expansions under a new contract set to go into effect next year.

United Concordia is slated take over Tricare's dental contract Jan. 31, 2017, military officials announced this month. The company had previously provided dental insurance from 1996 until 2012, when the contract was switched to MetLife.

Under the new contract, the annual maximum benefit for users will expand from $1,300 to $1,500, according to contract documents.

Sealants, which currently carry a 20-percent cost share, will be completely covered at zero out of pocket cost. Beneficiaries, who must pay monthly premiums to use Tricare's dental program, will continue to receive to two free cleanings a year, while pregnant users will be able to receive three.

About 1.8 million beneficiaries are enrolled in Tricare's dental program through Metlife, United Concordia officials said in a press release. The newly awarded five-year contract, potentially worth $2.9 billion, is under protest -- a typical step after a major government contract decision.

While some benefits will expand, users could be forced to find a new dental provider after the change, since individual dental practices determine which providers they will accept -- and which they will not.

Tricare officials said they cannot comment on the award until the protest has been settled. United Concordia officials said additional coverage details are still under development.

"We don't have specifics to offer on our coverage at this time, as we are still working out details with the government," a company spokesperson said in an email.

The 2012 change in contractor from United Concordia to MetLife brought an expansion in many categories, including an increase in the annual maximum covered, an increase in the lifetime orthodontic maximum, the addition accidental dental injury coverage, an additional cleaning for women during pregnancy and the coverage of white fillings. 

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @amybushatz.

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