Are military retirees getting the word about looming changes to their dental coverage, and do older retirees in particular have the tools they need to make that decision?

Some advocates are concerned about the upcoming transition from the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, which ends Dec. 31. It’s being replaced by the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), traditionally available to federal civilian employees, retirees and their families. But retirees are not automatically enrolled in the new FEDVIP coverage. They must enroll between Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, or they won’t have coverage on Jan. 1.

“My biggest fear is that there are going to be so many retirees who are not going to get the word until they try to go to the dentist,” said Frank Yoakum, a retired Army sergeant major who is executive director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. “They’ll find out they have no dental coverage. They missed the boat … so they have to wait until next year’s open season to make a choice for 2020. They’ll go without dental care for a year.”

About 1.6 million beneficiaries are currently enrolled in the Tricare Retiree Dental Program, and another 1.3 million are eligible retirees who aren’t currently enrolled in that program. All of those nearly 3 million beneficiaries are eligible for FEDVIP.

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