New Dental Plan for Military
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2000 6:06 PM
To: Bruce K. Melson
Subject: New Dental Plan for Military Retirees, includes Reserves underage
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2000 -- Military retirees asked for a more
comprehensive dental plan, and now they have one.
As a result of retiree feedback, the enhanced TRICARE Retiree
Dental Program went into effect Oct. 1 and adds more than 100
new procedures and extends eligibility criteria, said Navy Capt.
Lawrence McKinley, TRICARE senior consultant for dentistry.
The new program supersedes one started in February 1998 that
augmented "space-available" retiree dental care at military
hospitals and clinics.
"The basic TRDP didn't cover all the dental needs of the retired
community," McKinley said. After listening to retirees and
cataloging their needs and requests over the past 18 months, he
said, Delta Dental Plan of California, the insurance
administrator; the TRICARE Management Activity; and the dental
service chiefs worked together to determine the best program
possible while keeping the premium costs affordable.
Eligible beneficiaries include:
o Military retirees, including those over age 65;
o Reserve members entitled to retired pay, but under age 60;
o Spouses of retirees;
o Children under age 21, or full-time students under age 23;
o A nonremarried surviving spouse or eligible child of a
deceased member or member who died while on active duty for more
than 30 days and who aren't eligible for the TRICARE Dental
The enhanced dental program also offers expanded eligibility,
McKinley said. Now, members can enroll a spouse or child without
enrolling themselves provided they have documented proof that
o Eligible to receive dental care from the Department of
o Enrolled in an employers' dental plan that isn't available to
o Unable to obtain benefits from the TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan
due to a current and enduring medical or dental condition.
McKinley, a Navy Dental Corps officer since 1971, said the 114
new procedures make the enhanced TRICARE plan "a very
comprehensive dental program now." New services include crowns
and bridges, full and partial dentures, orthodontics, and
allowance for composite-resin --"white" -- fillings in the back
teeth, a second annual cleaning, and dental accident coverage
for traumatic injury.
About the only things not covered in the new program are certain
extremely expensive procedures such as dental implants, he
The new services come at a price. Beneficiaries will pay about
double for the enhanced coverage under the new dental plan,
McKinley said. Monthly premiums, dependent upon geographic
region, range from $21 to $34 for one person; $40 to $65 for
two; and $62 to $105 for a family of three or more.
The rates are good until Jan. 31, 2003, when new contract bids
are scheduled. However, additional DoD-directed enhancements
could increase those premiums.
"We asked beneficiaries through surveys whether they would be
willing to pay more for an enhanced program, and 62 percent said
yes," McKinley said. "In fact, over 20 percent said they would
be willing to pay more than double the old premium for an
"The benefit package doubles the number of procedures found in
the basic plan. That is a very good value and is very comparable
to the best of the civilian programs," he added.
Enrollment in the new program began Sept. 1, and should top the
500,000-plus beneficiaries that participated in its predecessor,
McKinley said. Expanded eligibility rules should reach an
estimated 4.2 million retirees and family members, he added.
So far, 45,000 people have signed up for the enhanced program,
McKinley said. Those enrolled agree to stay with the program for
at least 24 months. New enrollees who change their minds can
quit within the first 30 days provided they haven't used any
McKinley said enrollment in the basic dental program ceased Aug.
31. Basic program beneficiaries, he said, may continue coverage
under the old program with no change in terms or upgrade to the
The retired military beneficiaries who will use the enhanced
dental program range in age "from 38 to 108 . and are a very
significant part of our business," McKinley said.
"We value the retiree community and are concerned about their
overall dental health," he added. "I think they have confidence
that Uncle Sam, that DoD, that TRICARE are looking out for their
best interest" to establish the best retiree dental program
"And we have worked very hard to do that," he concluded.
To determine eligibility for the enhanced TRICARE Retiree Dental
Program, or monthly premium rates per region, call Enrollment
Services toll-free at 1 (888) 838-8737. Visit the <a href=