Military Retirees Flock to Federal Dental and Vision Program

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FILE PHOTO -- Regie Dawkins, U.S. Air Force retired, receives a dental examination. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jenay Randolph)
FILE PHOTO -- Regie Dawkins, U.S. Air Force retired, receives a dental examination. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jenay Randolph)

Military retirees seemed to get the message to sign up for federal dental benefits before the Tricare Retiree Dental Program ended Dec. 31, with nearly 1.2 million of those eligible making the switch, according to data released by the Defense Department.

As of March 15, 1,424,521 Tricare beneficiaries were enrolled in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, including 1,197,158 beneficiaries who were previously enrolled in TRDP.

The remainder -- more than 225,000 retirees and family members -- were new enrollees to FEDVIP.

At its peak, TDRP had roughly 1.5 million enrollees. It's not clear, defense officials said, why some beneficiaries previously enrolled in TDRP didn't sign up for FEDVIP. Possibilities include already being in FEDVIP or simply deciding to drop dental insurance.

What is known, according to the DoD, is that Tricare officials have received few complaints.

"We have had virtually no complaints about beneficiaries being disenrolled because they didn't know about the change," a department official said.

Before TDRP expired last year, military retirees and family members became eligible to enroll in a dental plan through FEDVIP. But for the first time, eligible beneficiaries were required to sign up during an open season period, which ran Nov. 12 through Dec. 10.

With about 78 percent of eligible military retirees having signed up by the cutoff date, the Office of Personnel Management extended the period for initial enrollment to mid-March.

Now, those wishing to sign up for FEDVIP must have a qualifying life event such as military retirement; marriage; loss of a spouse or family member; or a move, or they must wait until the enrollment season in late November.

Those wishing to learn more about FEDVIP can check out the website at benefeds.com.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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