It is open season for Tricare until December 9, 2019. So, what exactly is open season? This is the annual period where you have the option to enroll or change your health care plan for 2020. It is also open season for Federal Benefits which has the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). Any changes made at this time go into effect on January 1, 2020.
“Every year your health coverage needs may change,” said Mark Ellis, chief of the Policy and Programs Section of the TRICARE Health Plan at the Defense Health Agency. “Open season is your chance to think about the kind of coverage you’ll need for the upcoming year and make any changes.”
Basically, there are three things you can do during open season for Tricare. If you are eligible for Tricare but not enrolled you can sign up for a plan. If currently enrolled and you like your plan you can do nothing, and no action is required, or you can change to a new plan, from Prime to Select. FEDVIP is also offering open season. This program has a variety of vision and dental plans. If you are already enrolled and like your plan you don’t have to do anything. If you want to change you must do so by December 9, 2019.
So now what? How do I decide? First visit Tricare and become familiar with all the plans that are offered. Depending on your area of the country you may be eligible for a Tricare Prime with a civilian managed care plan. With this type of plan you will be seen by doctors in their network and will not be eligible to use a military treatment facility or pharmacy. Be sure you understand all the costs and how you access care. Do you need referrals? What procedures are covered, and which are not? When it comes to FEDVIP do you have other options? You might have a better and cheaper plan through your employer.
Next consider your family’s medical situation. We have always had Tricare Prime, I love the convenience of it and being seen at a military facility. I have found the wait for appointments can be just as long in the civilian medical world when I have had to be seen by specialists. But this is the right fit for my family. I have had no experience with Tricare Select but my understanding is that may be a good fit for your family if one of your family members needs to see a lot of specialists and you don’t want to go through the referral process of Tricare Prime.
Tricare is a great deal and hands down beats the costs of plans in the civilian world. It is a huge benefit of being a member of the military. “In 2017, the average employer-provided family health care plan cost $18,764, a 3.4-percent increase from 2016. Family coverage premiums have increased 19 percent since 2012 and 55 percent since 2007. Employees covered under these plans typically pay 31 percent of the overall premium, or $5,817 a year,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. I have some relatives that pay $600 a month for family health care with huge deductibles. So if you haven’t already enrolled in Tricare what are you waiting for.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com