It’s been a few years since military retiree dental switched to the Benefeds/FedVIP program, and people are gradually starting to get used to having to pick a plan. But that doesn’t make it any easier! With so many options, how do you choose? Do you want to go with a program through the Benefeds/FEDVIP program? Do you have an employer option? Would a commercial policy be a better choice for your situation? Or do you even need dental coverage at all?
Do You Care What Dentist You Use?
If you have a dentist and you want to stay with them, then the first thing to do is ask your dentist which plans they accept. Give them a call, or print out the options and stop by the office. They should be glad to help you!
You can also go to the website of the plan you are considering, and check their “find a dentist” database. Because I’m paranoid, I like to verify the dentist’s participation in both directions, both through the dentist and through the insurance carrier.
Will You Need Immediate Coverage For Something That Sometimes Has A Waiting Period?
Some plans may have a waiting period for certain services, particularly expensive services like orthodontics. If you anticipate needing big work soon, be sure to pick a plan that doesn’t have a waiting period.
Do You Have A Young Adult?
Because of the way the program is set up, kids who have aged off “regular” Tricare can’t be covered under the Benefeds dental plans, even if they are enrolled in Tricare Young Adult. So, if you have a child in that bracket who doesn’t have access to dental insurance elsewhere, you need to consider whether a slightly more expensive commercial policy would be a better choice for your family.
What’s Your Capacity For Unplanned Expenses?
Everyone budgets differently, and everyone has a different comfort level with surprise expenses. Would you rather pay more in premiums each month, but have lower costs expenses when you need care? Or are you willing to pay more when you need care in order to save on premiums each month? If you choose a less-expensive, lower-coverage plan, will a dental emergency also be a financial emergency, or do you have the money set aside for these types of expenses?
At the far end of the spectrum, my friend Doug self-insures, using the money he would use on premiums to pay for his dental care. This leads us into the next question:
What Are Your Dental Needs? How’s Your Oral Health?
Dental needs vary a lot from person to person. Some folks never have a cavity and require almost no care. I have a certain tooth that chips a lot due to the structure of my bite, and it requires dental care about once a year. Anyone with kids will probably want some sort of coverage, and most of us parents will want orthodontic coverage. Younger retirees with great dental hygiene may not need insurance at all, older folks with problematic mouths may need the most comprehensive coverage available.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed!
While the process of choosing a dental plan is new-ish for retired military families, it’s not a bad thing. There is power in choice! I am confident that you can sort through your options and find a plan that meets your dental care needs and your budget!
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