Today, Dec. 10, is your last chance to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), at least for another year.
Open season ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. in whatever time zone you are located.
If you are currently enrolled in the Tricare Retiree Dental Plan, that plan will end Dec. 31. But you must enroll in the FEDVIP before midnight tonight if you want to continue coverage through the government as of Jan. 1. Contingency plans are in place to handle any overload of those who may be waiting until the last minute to enroll.
Dental plans: Military retirees are newly eligible for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), and the deadline to sign up is today. 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 TRDP 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 Tricare.benefeds.com.
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 the end of the day 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 Tricare.benefeds.com.
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 should do it today. 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 https://www.tricare.mil/About/Changes/OpenSeason
Cost differences: Some retirees have asked why they’re paying more for dental and vision premiums than current federal employees because of different tax treatment.
In effect, military retirees pay more than civilian employees do for FEDVIP, because civilian workers’ premiums are deducted pre-tax. That reduces the taxable income for civilian workers, and thus, the taxes paid — so the amount deducted from the federal worker’s paycheck is less. Retirees’ premiums are deducted from their retired pay after taxes.
But the same policy that is applied to military retirees is applied to retired federal employees — the premiums are deducted from retired pay after taxes, so the premiums in both cases are higher than they are for current federal employees.
Current federal employees also pay, in effect, less for their vision coverage, because premiums are deducted from their pay before taxes.
Premiums for vision coverage for active-duty family members, reservists and their family members, and retirees and their family members are also deducted after taxes, as are vision coverage premiums for retired federal employees. So all those groups pay more, in effect, for vision coverage than do current federal employees.
According to a spokesperson with the Office of Personnel Management, federal law and Internal Revenue Service regulations preclude allowing pre-tax premiums to these groups.