In corporate America, open season is an annual benefits ritual that occurs like clockwork around this time each year. However, until now, it hasn’t been a part of the benefits routine for those currently serving, retired military members or their families. This year’s first-ever TRICARE Open Season, from Nov. 12 to Dec. 10, 2018, changes that and creates a common open season experience...sort-of. There are still some military nuances and what you can or can’t do depends a lot on where you are as it relates to your military service. For example, an active duty service member is still going to get his or her health care from a military hospital or clinic.
If you’re curious and want to dig into the details, I’d encourage you to visit tricare.mil/openseason. Here, I’ll provide a quick overview of what you can expect and some of the choices and new opportunities that roll out during the inaugural TRICARE Open Season.
Active duty members. Truthfully, this will be a non-event if you’re a single active duty service member. You won’t need to do anything during TRICARE Open Season and won’t see any changes in your care or coverage. However, if you have family members, there are decisions to be made and new options available. This seems like a good time to highlight the need to ensure your family members are accurately reflected in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. Visit the closest ID card office to get it done.
Active duty family members. If you want to keep your current health care plan, you don’t need to do anything during TRICARE Open Season. Your current health care coverage will continue automatically next year as long as you remain eligible. If you want to switch between TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Select, this is the only time, unless you experience a TRICARE Qualifying Life Event (QLE), in which you may be able to make a change. Curious about TRICARE QLEs? Read all about them at tricare.mil/lifeevents. Beyond such a change, the only other new wrinkle is vision coverage. This year is the first time family members will be able to sign up for vision coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). On the other hand, family members will continue to receive dental care through the TRICARE Dental program.
Reserve and Guard service members and families. Even with the new TRICARE Open Season, you can still sign up for TRICARE Reserve Select throughout the year. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s worth a look. Comprehensive health coverage for about $50 for an individual and $200 for a family is hard to beat. Also, reserve component service members and their family members can sign up for FEDVIP vison during the Federal Benefits Open Season. No changes with dental coverage, you can enroll in the TRICARE Dental Program at any time.
Retired service members and families. If you’re enrolled in TRICARE Prime or TRICARE Select, TRICARE Open Season offers you a chance to switch plans. This year, it’s also an opportunity to add vision coverage through a FEDVIP vision plan. In perhaps the biggest change for 2019, the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program goes away on Dec. 31, 2018. If you want to maintain or add dental coverage, you must take action by enrolling in a FEDVIP dental plan.
Sometimes rituals become second nature and we just put it on auto pilot and roll through the process. However, if you’re a TRICARE beneficiary, this year it’s a whole new experience. Get up to speed on the options and choices you’ll need to make during TRICARE Open Season today. Go to tricare.mil/openseason to learn more.
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Disclosures: "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements."
The information contained is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining professional financial advice. Please thoroughly research and seek professional advice before acting on any information you may have found in this article. This article in no way attempts to provide financial advice that relates to all personal circumstances.
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