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Retiree dental coverage is disappearing – here’s how to enroll in the federal employee program

Just when you think you’ve got this retirement thing down, something changes.

This time it’s dental insurance. The single-option Tricare Delta Dental Program, also known as TRDP, will soon be a thing of the past.

Besides the change in dental insurance for retirees, vision insurance will now be available to both retirees and active duty service members.

The new program allows retirees to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or FEDVIP. Active duty personnel will be able to enroll in the vision portion – their current dental coverage will remain the same.

Retirees will be able to choose among 10 different dental plans and price points, rather than the standard one-option only TRDP. Delta Dental will be one of those options, although with different coverage than the current TRDP.

There will be four different vision plans.

Some 3.3 million federal civilian employees are enrolled in FEDVIP, which is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management under the umbrella name BENEFEDS.

The changes go into effect Jan. 1, but you must sign up during the “open season” enrollment period between Nov. 12 and Dec. 10. Anyone who doesn’t sign up then will have to wait until the next enrollment period, unless certain “qualifying life events” happen. It’s not clear from the BENEFEDS website what the QLEs are for retirees, but active duty life events include marriage, birth or a change in active duty status.

Once you enroll, your coverage will continue and you will not have to re-enroll unless you wish to change plans.

Delta Dental, which administers TRDP, is included as one of the options under FEDVIP. Still, retirees using TRDP will automatically lose their dental coverage unless they choose one of the FEDVIP plans. This is true even if you intend to pick Delta Dental as your provider.

What’s covered and what’s not varies among the plans. Some dental plans have waiting periods for orthodontics while others don’t. Anyone considering signing up should research each dental and vision plan carefully. Another good piece of advice is to check with your current dentist and ask which of the plans they will be accepting.

The 2018 prices for a FEDVIP dental family plan in my area of Florida range from about $64.18 per month to $117.15 per month, compared to $115 under TRDP. A 2018 FEDVIP plan for two people runs from $42.79 to 92.80, while singles pay $21.47 to $46.39.

Vision plans for 2018 run from $18.98 to $43.48 per month for a family. Coverage for two people ranges from $13.21 to $28.90, while a single person pays between $6.96 and $14.43.

The BENEFEDS website has a wealth of information on the transition and the new plans, including a plan comparison tool, an FAQ section, a feedback tool and an option to sign up for email alerts.

In addition, BENEFEDS is presenting two webinars leading up to the open enrollment season. The first, titled “Prepare for the 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season Now,” is Oct. 3. The second, titled

“Open Season Is Here! Enroll in FEDVIP Dental and Vision Coverage Today” takes place Nov. 14.

BENEFEDS is also offering an online “Virtual Benefits Fair” from Nov. 12 to Dec. 10. Two of these days – Nov. 13 and Dec. 5 – are set aside as “chat days,” where users can ask questions. You can also log in anytime during those dates to watch instructional videos, review 2019 plan information, download plan brochures and receive information from specific FEDVIP insurance providers.

Representatives from FEDVIP will also be present at several base Retiree Appreciation Days from now through November.

Good luck and happy choosing!

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