Tricare Dental Contract Swap, Expansion Going Forward

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A plan to expand dental benefits for active-duty families, National Guard and Reserve members and their families while switching Tricare contractors is set to go forward in mid-2017.

The swap will move the five-year, $2.9 billion contract from Metlife back to United Concordia, which managed the program from 1996 to 2012.

A Metlife protest over the switch decision was recently denied by the Government Accountability Office, sources said. The new contract is set to begin May 1, 2017.

"We're working with the Defense Health Agency on the transition and implementation specifications, which will take place over the next year," said Beth Rutherford, a United Concordia spokesperson.

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.

But some users may need to find a new dentist after the change, since individual dental practices determine which programs they accept. Details regarding in-network dentist options are likely to be released before the contract start date next year.

Officials with Tricare said the transition process from Metlife to United Concordia started in early May. About 1.8 million beneficiaries are enrolled in the Metlife Tricare dental program.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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