The Dec. 10 deadline is quickly approaching for important choices for 2019 about dental coverage, health care coverage and vision coverage.

Tricare health plan: If you’re satisfied with your current plan — Tricare Select or Tricare Prime — you don’t have to do anything. You’ll remain in that plan for all of 2019. If you want to switch, you must do it by Dec. 10. You can also change your enrollment type, such as moving from individual to family coverage during this enrollment period.

This is the first time defense health officials have had an open season — which means you can only make these switches during a limited window of time, unless you have a qualifying life event such as a birth, marriage, permanent change of station move, retirement, etc. Note, for example, that pregnancy is NOT a qualifying life event. Visit

Dental plans: The Tricare Retiree Dental Program ends on Dec. 31. But military retirees are newly eligible for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), and the deadline to sign up is Dec. 10. As of Dec. 6, more than 422,000 retiree families had enrolled in a FEDVIP dental plan.

FEDVIP offers at least 10 dental plan choices available to each potential eligible retiree. That’s compared to one single plan under the Tricare Retiree Dental Program. The FEDVIP dental program is available for anyone eligible for the TRDP, whether or not you were actually enrolled in TRDP. But if you’re in FEDVIP now and want coverage in 2019 under a federal program, you must sign up by Dec. 10. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait a year, until the next enrollment season, to sign up. Visit

Vision plans: Most active-duty family members, retirees and reservists and their family members are eligible for a new vision benefit under FEDVIP that provides extra coverage beyond what you’re getting under Tricare plans. You must enroll by Dec. 10 to get coverage for 2019. As of Dec. 6, more than 177,000 active-duty family members, retirees, reservists and their family members are enrolled in a FEDVIP vision plan. Active duty are not eligible.

There are eight vision plan choices available to those eligible. Visit

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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