Almost Half of Retiree Tricare Dental Users Could Soon Be Uninsured

Military retiree dentists (A. Sean Taylor/U.S. Army Reserve)

With five days to go in the window for current users of Tricare's Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) to ensure they have coverage in 2019, officials say just over half of retirees have made the switch.

TRDP is ending Dec. 31, thanks to a measure passed by Congress last year. Military retirees who want to retain dental coverage must sign up for a plan through the same system used by federal civilian employee retirees, known as the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

But as of Dec. 4, only about 422,000 of the approximately 800,000 military retirees currently enrolled in TRDP had applied for a policy through FEDVIP, Tricare officials said Wednesday.

FEDVIP Dental Plans

With Tricare's retiree dental option, provided by Delta Dental, going away, military retirees who want to continue coverage in the new year must select one of FEDVIP's options. Depending on location, there can be multiple plans to choose from, offering a variety of coverage levels, monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

A analysis found the FEDVIP Delta Dental PPO Standard plan is similar to Tricare's current coverage.

Coverage Change Rules

Unlike with Tricare's current system, retirees who want to buy insurance must do so during the annual open season, which runs until Dec. 10. Outside of open season, they can enroll when experiencing a qualifying life event (QLE), such as the loss of a job or a move.

This means that if retirees don't buy into a new plan during open season, they could find themselves without dental coverage after Dec. 31.

How to Pick a New Retiree Dental Plan

Military benefits experts recommend retirees take a few steps before picking a new plan. In addition to comparing what's available, they should factor in what needs they're likely to

experience next year and research which plans their current dentist will accept.

Retirees who don't have computer access to research the plans or enroll can call the plan phone numbers listed below, followed by the FEDVIP number to enroll. However, FEDVIP enrollment representatives are not allowed to recommend a specific plan.

Aetna Dental: 1-877-459-6604

GEHA: 1-877-434-2336

Delta Dental: 1-855-410-3255

Humana: 1-877-692-2468

Dominion Dental: 1-855-836-6337

MetLife: 1-888-865-6584

EmblemHealth: 1-800-624-2414

Triple-S Salud: 1-800-716-6081

FEP BlueDental: 1-855-504-2583

United Concordia Dental: 1-877-394-8224

FEDVIP enrollment: 1-877-888-3337

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at

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