As Tricare's retiree dental program prepares to shut down Dec. 31, military retirees will be able instead to choose dental insurance from a buffet of options through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).
But to buy one of the plans, they must take action on the FEDVIP site during the open enrollment period between Nov. 12 and Dec. 10.
Information on what the 2019 plans will cover or cost won't be available until October, officials said. That means retirees can't compare or accurately research plans until then. But they can arm themselves with the information that is available, including both Military.com's first set of FEDVIP tips and these four helpful additions.
1. You could have a waiting period ... or not. Retirees who might need major dental work soon have one less thing to worry about after FEDVIP officials clarified a waiting period rule.
FEDVIP officials had announced that unless users pick a plan that doesn't have a waiting period, they could be hit with a delay of up to a year before getting coverage for in-process treatments such as orthodontia. That means that if a user has braces right now, he should select a plan that provides coverage right away, or risk paying out of pocket.
Officials clarified that those waiting periods impact only orthodontics, not other major work. That's because, they said, unlike many commercial plans, none of their current plans has a waiting period for anything but orthodontia. Phew.
They also noted that some insurers might elect to allow a one-time exemption to their normal orthodontics waiting period rules for those who had previously used the Tricare retiree dental plan. Whether that's an option won't be known until October, when the 2019 plan details and rates are announced.
2. Make sure you know the open enrollment times. Military retirees who want dental coverage in 2019 must pick one of the FEDVIP plans during open enrollment, Nov. 12 to Dec. 10, or risk going without next year.
But if you're the type of person who waits until the last minute to take care of things, you'll want to know another important timing detail. Open enrollment is on East Coast time, officials said. That means the open enrollment period closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Dec. 10. If you're on the West Coast, for example, that's an important detail.
3. Struggle with computers? They'll have an 800 number. Some retirees who emailed us noted they're worried about registering for a new plan via the FEDVIP website because they rely on family or neighbors to help them with computer use. Fortunately for those users, the website isn't the only option. FEDVIP officials they'll release an 800 number for FEDVIP users closer to the open enrollment period.
4. They have helpful webinars. FEDVIP's experts said users who are having problems or are nervous about using the system should check out the webinars. Can't make the webinar time? Not a problem, because they are archived on the site.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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