Military Advantage

Some New Military Retiree Dental Plans Have Waiting Periods

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 who are currently using orthodontic services through Tricare's dental plan or who may soon need or want them should select a new plan this fall that does not have a waiting period, as the Tricare retiree dental program comes to an end.

Last year, Congress ordered Tricare to shutter its retiree dental plan by Dec. 31, 2018.

Instead, military retirees will be able to purchase dental coverage through the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) marketplace during an open enrollment period Nov. 12 to Dec. 10. Vision coverage will also be available for the first time for retirees, active-duty families, and Guard and reservists.

Although 2019 coverage rates for those plans have not been released, retirees will likely see similar dental costs and coverage options under the new plans as are currently available under the Tricare dental system.

But retirees who are using the Tricare retiree plan through Delta Dental to receive orthodontic services have more to worry about than just selecting a plan that fits their general needs. They also must read the fine print about potential coverage delays.

That's because many dental plans come with a long waiting period before a buyer can utilize the coverage for orthodontia.

"FEDVIP carriers will not cover in-progress treatment if you enroll in a FEDVIP plan that has a waiting period or does not cover the service," Angerlyn Johnson, a program analyst at the Office of Personnel Management, told in a statement.

That means if retirees or covered family members are in the middle of orthodontic treatments and choose a plan during open enrollment that includes a waiting period, they could be stuck paying for those services out of pocket.

Retirees can view the FEDVIP marketplace here. Although you can compare currently available plans now, rates and other updates for 2019 will not be released until this fall.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at

This article was updated after FEDVIP officials clarified that none of their plans have waiting periods for work other than orthodontia. 

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