Open enrollment season for Tricare and the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program began Monday, meaning now is the time for military beneficiaries to switch between Tricare plans or buy or swap dental or vision coverage.

Between now and Dec. 9, Tricare beneficiaries can change between Tricare Prime and Tricare Select, or, if they are not already enrolled, sign up. Beneficiaries who want to remain in their current program do not have to do anything. If no action is taken, they will be covered through the next calendar year, unless they become ineligible for another reason.

Each Tricare plan has its own features and cost structure. Tricare Prime has no out-of-pocket costs for active duty families, unless they see a doctor outside their Prime network without a referral or fill prescriptions at a retail pharmacy or through mail order. For retirees, Tricare Prime requires an annual enrollment fee as well as co-payments for appointments and procedures other than those at a military treatment facility.

Tricare Select for most beneficiaries requires no enrollment fee but has a higher fee structure. It allows beneficiaries to select their own physicians and see specialists largely without a referral.

There are a number of options under Tricare Prime and Select; beneficiaries can compare them on Tricare’s website.

If beneficiaries want to change plans outside open season, they can do so only if they experience a qualifying life event, such as losing other insurance coverage, marriage, childbirth, adoption or other change.

Open enrollment season for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or FEDVIP, also began on Nov. 11 and runs through Dec. 9.

During this period, retirees can get dental coverage or swap plans, and military family members, retirees and other eligible Tricare beneficiaries can obtain vision coverage.

For 2020, FEDVIP will offer at least 10 dental and four vision carriers for patients to choose from. Information on individual plans, including rates, premiums, cost-shares and annual and lifetime maximum benefits can be found on the BENEFEDS website.

The site also includes information on eligibility as well as a comparison tool that lets beneficiaries compare up to three plans side-by-side based on locality.

This open season marks the second for military retirees and other beneficiaries since the Tricare Retiree Dental Program was abolished in December 2018. Last year, the enrollment window was extended through March and more than 1.4 million Tricare beneficiaries signed up, including 1.97 million who previously had been in TRDP.

At least 300,000 Tricare beneficiaries enrolled in a FEDVIP vision plan.

As with Tricare, beneficiaries currently enrolled in a FEDVIP dental or vision plan who are satisfied with their plan and don’t want to change do not have to take any action.

A “virtual benefits fair” is being hosted through Dec. 9 on the BENEFEDS site. Chat sessions with representatives are scheduled for Nov. 15, Nov. 22 and Dec. 4. Registration is required.

To check eligibility, enroll or for more information, visit the Tricare Open Season web page.

Patricia Kime is a senior writer covering military and veterans health care, medicine and personnel issues.

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