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TRICARE changes coming

Action required to continue dental, vision coverage

Retirees will now have a choice between 10 dental carriers and four vision carriers. File photo

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In the coming months, the Defense Health Agency will implement significant changes to the TRICARE health benefit which will affect many of its 9.4 million patients worldwide.

A sizable number of these TRICARE patients -- more than 281,000 -- live in the Puget Sound area.

Beginning Nov. 12, TRICARE patients may choose which TRICARE health plan is best suited for themselves and their families. For more information on this point, visit

Additionally -- and this is just as important as the changes discussed above -- retirees and their families will need to select a Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program Plan to continue their dental coverage.

The Defense Health Agency's TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), which is administered by Delta Dental, will end Dec. 31, 2018.

Individuals currently enrolled in, or eligible for, TRDP will have the chance to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) during the Federal Benefits Open Season Nov. 12 through Dec. 10.

"They will need to get engaged during the open season," said Patrick Grady, chief of the TRICARE Health Plan, in a Sept. 7 article written by Tom Philpott.

"This isn't a passive approach anymore. But we're excited about the options they'll have to choose from."

TRDP is ending because the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 included a provision to transition dental coverage for retired uniformed servicemembers and their families from TRDP to FEDVIP.

Active-duty uniformed servicemembers are not eligible in FEDVIP. Their dental and vision coverage will still be provided by TRICARE, and their family members will still be eligible to enroll in the TRICARE Dental Program (TDP).

Under FEDVIP, retirees will now have a choice between 10 dental carriers and four vision carriers. Many of the plans offer both high and standard options.

Before shopping for a dental plan, retirees and their families should verify that their personnel information in DEERS, the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, is up to date.

"This change gives you great flexibility when choosing the right coverage for you and your family," wrote Debra Caruso Marrone, DJC Communications, in an email.

She added that FEDVIP is popular among federal employees, and that the more than 3.3 million people enrolled in the system give the program high marks for quality and value.

In general, retired servicemembers and their families who are eligible for TRDP are eligible for FEDVIP dental coverage and, if enrolled in a TRICARE health plan, FEDVIP vision coverage.

If enrolled during the open season, coverage is effective Jan. 1, 2019.

To determine eligibility in FEDVIP, retirees should visit  

They will be asked a few questions to determine if they can enroll in the FEDVIP dental coverage, FEDVIP vision coverage, or both.

To sign up for Military Health System email updates, visit

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