Here are the new rates for military retiree dental coverage under new FEDVIP benefit

Military retirees will have more options for dental coverage under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. (Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker/Air Force)

Military retirees eligible for the new dental and vision coverage — as well as active duty families eligible for the new vision benefit — can start researching their options in earnest now, with the release of new rates for 2019.

The enrollment period for coverage under the Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or FEDVIP, is Nov. 12 to Dec. 10, but the time to start comparisons is now, said Kathy Beasley, director of government relations, health affairs, for the Military Officers Association of America.

For retirees, the FEDVIP replaces the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, which ends Dec. 31. In order to have dental and vision coverage on Jan. 1, retirees must sign up during the enrollment period. Active duty families are still eligible for dental coverage under Tricare, but if they want the new vision coverage, they must sign up during the enrollment period.

“We want to get this information out as soon as we can to give people extra time to make their decisions,” Beasley said, noting the Office of Personnel Management had provided the information early, in advance of being published on Tricare.benefeds.com. The rate information is available here, and will be available in early October on the website, along with a comparison tool that helps in making the choice.

The rates and options vary among the different plans, but according to Beasley, officials with the Office of Personnel Management said the average gross dental premium for 2019 increases by 1.2 percent compared to rates for 2018. That does vary; for example, the FEP BlueDental rates for 2019 are decreasing on average by 6.8 percent for the high option and by 7.8 percent for the standard option, according to Guillermo Meneses, spokesman for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

The actual premium will depend on the plan chosen, but across the carriers, the average dental premium rates for 2019:

Average biweekly dental premium* Average monthly dental premium*
Self $17.41 $37.73
Self + 1 $34.14 $73.97
Self + family $49.23 $106.68
*Actual premium may be higher or lower *Actual premium may be higher or lower

The average vision gross premium is decreasing by 2.8 percent in 2019.

The actual premium will depend on the plan chosen, but across the carriers, the average vision premium rates for 2019:

Average biweekly vision premium* Average biweekly vision premium*
Self $5.10 $11.05
Self + 1 $10.23 $22.16
Self + Family $14.75 $31.96
*Actual premium may be higher or lower *Actual premium may be higher or lower

It’s difficult to compare costs under the new plan with current costs under the Tricare Retiree Dental Program because the TRDP is a “one size fits all” program.

Beasley said many MOAA members have said they looked at the 2018 FEDVIP prices compared to TRDP, and can’t find the exact same coverage and prices for comparison purposes. The FEDVIP offers a variety of different plans and options, with 10 different companies offering dental options for dental coverage, and four different companies offering vision coverage.

She said officials at OPM, the Defense Health Agency, military service organizations and veterans service organizations have joined forces in the last few months to get the word out to retirees about the new retiree dental plan options, but some apparently don’t know about the changes. She said she was in Huntsville, Alabama, giving a briefing, and about half of the retirees she spoke to had heard about the changes.

As retirees evaluate their choices for the new dental plan, Beasley suggests that if they like their current dentist, they should ask their dentist whether they accept a FEDVIP plan, and talk about next year’s dental needs.

“Your dentist knows your dental health and what you might anticipate in the future,” she said. “Do your due diligence and look at the pricing. Use the plan comparison tool, and make your decision based on that.”

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