As retirement approaches, service members may be concerned with losing the dental benefits they received while serving in the military. Service members may elect to continue with TRICARE's comprehensive dental retirement plan or consider other alternative or supplemental options only available to military veterans and retirees.
Military Dental Plan
The TRICARE retiree dental program is offered to retired active-duty, reserve and National Guard service members and their families. TRICARE is offered through Delta Dental, and as of 2014, pays between 50 and 100 percent of the cost of services such as cleanings, exams and oral surgeries with an annual deductible of $50 per person and a maximum per family of $150. Members can receive up to $1,300 in benefits per person during each calendar year.
Enrollment in the TRICARE retiree dental program is optional. When the retiree enrolls, he must commit to 12 months of coverage after which coverage is continued on a month-to-month basis. Retirees must pay a monthly premium for TRICARE dental benefits, which varies by location and the number of family members enrolled. Monthly deductions are taken from your retirement allotment.
VA Outpatient Program
Some veterans may be eligible to receive some or all of their dental care through the Department of Veterans Affairs' Outpatient Dental Program. Full dental care is offered to former prisoners of war, veterans who are 100 percent disabled and veterans whose service-related disability includes a dental condition. Other veterans may be eligible for one-time or partial dental care, including dental care needed as part of a vocational rehabilitation program or care to address issues that affect other medical conditions.
Veterans can also choose dental coverage for themselves under the VA Dental Insurance Program via two additional programs outside of TRICARE. These programs are available directly from Delta Dental or Met Life at reduced costs. Each company offers multiple plans where the veteran pays the monthly premiums and copayments depending on the plan and coverage selected. Covered services include preventative and diagnostic care, dental emergencies, restorative, endodontic and surgical care. These programs are not available to beneficiaries or spouses.
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