Since 1998, the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) has provided uniformed Department of Defense (DoD) services retirees and their families with an affordable dental benefits plan but that one of a kind program will be ending on December 31, 2018.
Beginning on January 1, 2019, the TRDP will be replaced by the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) which means some veterans will pay for their own dental services and some military retirees face annual costs increasing by at least hundreds of dollars.
The potential for annual fee increases was authorized in a law passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last year but until recently very little has been known about how those changes will happen.
One woman, whose husband served in the Marine Corps 23 years, 8 months and 28 days, wrote on Twitter: “Today he received a postcard letting him know that @realDonaldTrump will be taking away his dental coverage as of December. He doesn’t give a shit about Veterans.”
The family is being switched to a plan described as ‘enrollee-pay-all’ and that is what provoked the anger.
After scaling back its operations in the 1990s as more and more World War II veterans passed away, the VA found itself unprepared for the influx of veterans from recent wars and the aging of the Vietnam War generation.
While efforts were made to come to terms with rising demands, Trump Republicans see spending hikes from the Obama-era as targets for cost cutting.
Current retirees and their families may be eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program have the opportunity to choose a new plan during a limited time, which will run from Nov. 12 through Dec. 10.
In order to prevent a gap in coverage retirees must enroll during open season and if they miss the deadline they will have to wait for a year, as there is no automatic enrollment available. to enroll.
From Nov. 12 through Dec. 10, retirees must choose which dental and vision program they want. If they do not pick one they will have the current program until Dec. 31, after which they will no longer be covered.
The upcoming change, which will affect 1.63 million beneficiaries enrolled in TRDP, was announced by the DHA and the Department of Defense earlier this year. About 1.3 million retirees who are not currently enrolled are eligible.
Beneficiaries may to choose from the following dental plan carriers: Aetna Dental, Delta Dental, Dominion Dental, EmblemHealth, FEP BlueDental, GEHA, Humana, MetLife, Triple-S Salud and United Concordia Dental. Also, beneficiaries will be able to choose from the following vision plan carriers: Aetna Vision, FEP BlueVision, UnitedHealthcare Vision and Vision Service Plan.
Congress last year increased fees for Tricare Prime retirees; setting flat-rate, out-of-pocket costs for most services; and creating an enrollment fee for future retirees in Tricare Standard, renamed Tricare Select, with the option of adding one for current retirees in 2021.
Retirees who do not live near a military treatment facility have no choice but to use the Select program. The plan was originally presented to troops, retirees and families as protecting a lower-cost benefit for currently serving troops and retirees by grandfathering them into current plan structures or setting lower fees.
When the fees were revealed, it became clear users of the rebranded Tricare Select program were temporarily safe from enrollment fees, but their out-of-pocket costs are higher than the rate paid by troops who joined or retired after January of this year.
For example, current retirees on Select were set to pay $41 for a specialty visit or $35 for a primary-care visit, while future retirees would by law pay $40 for specialty or $25 for primary care.
Although they are protected from an enrollment fee now and in the future, active-duty families have the same co-pay problem. By law, new troops and users of Tricare’s purchased plans, like Tricare Reserve Select, are paying $15 for primary care, while current troops are paying $21, for example.
According to a top Tricare official, the system is currently nowhere near meeting network standards in some regions of the country.
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