More than 1.8 million beneficiaries will see a change in their dental coverage next year as the government has just awarded United Concordia Companies, Inc. Tricare’s dental contract.
MetLife has held the contract since they took it over from United Concordia in 2012. Now that the government has made the switch back, there is plenty of protest.
The contract award is for $11,010,000 to support the Tricare Dental Program by providing comprehensive dental care services around the world to eligible Tricare beneficiaries. There were 4 offers made, but ultimately the Department of Defense (DoD) went with United Concordia. The 5-year contract includes 1-year transition in contract with 5 12-month option periods and a 12-month phase out period. United Concordia already manages the Tricare Active Duty Dental Program (ADDP) for active duty service members.
United Concordia reports that surveys confirm that enrolled members and the government are both satisfied with their service.
Some beneficiaries however are skeptical of the change.
When the DoD awarded the Tricare Dental Program contract to MetLife in 2012, many were delighted to find dental coverage expanded in many categories. The annual maximum amount covered increased, the lifetime orthodontic coverage increased, there was an addition of accidental dental injury and pregnant women were allowed an extra cleaning.
Now there is worry that some of these additions won’t carry over.
If United Concordia does keep these category expansions going, the question then becomes how much will this cost? A company spokesperson said that they don’t have specifics on Tricare dental coverage yet as they are still working out details with the government. In turn, the DoD says it cannot comment until the protests have been settled. That leaves a lot of room for questions and wondering minds.
A few program details have been announced however. The annual maximum benefit will increase from $1,300 to $1,500 under the new contract. Sealants, which required a 20 percent cost share under MetLife’s management, will now be completely covered with no out-of-pocket costs at all.
Monthly premiums won’t be going away though. All beneficiaries who are currently required to pay a monthly premium will still incur that cost. Two free cleanings a year will continue to be the norm and pregnant women will be able to have a third cleaning.
While these benefits are all great, some worry that they will have to find a new dental provider once the change in contract occurs. Each dental office can choose which provider they accept for dental coverage and they might not accept Tricare under United Concordia. It can be nerve-racking enough going to a dentist. Once you find one you like and trust, whether for yourself or your family, you want to stick with them. Facing the potential to have to search for a new dental office is cumbersome.
If you’re worried about scheduling your next cleaning, note that United Concordia doesn’t take over Tricare dental until February 1, 2017, so you have plenty of time to see your dental care provider.
If you or a family member are not enrolled in the Tricare Dental Program and would like to do so, you can sign up online.
The Tricare Dental Program is the world’s largest voluntary dental program. Those eligible for enrollment include: family members of active duty service members, family members of national guard/reserve members, and national guard/reserve members who are not on active duty or covered by Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP).
Coverage is available worldwide. It includes coverage for many dental procedures including:
- root canals
- gum surgery and tooth extractions
- orthodontics and braces
- scaling and root planning for diabetics
- as well as an additional cleaning for pregnant women.
If you’re worried about how the Tricare Dental Program will change after the contact award, don’t delay in making a trip to your favorite dentist before next year.