2021 Tricare Open Season – How to Enroll in Tricare or Change Your Healthcare Plan

Tricare open season for enrollment changes runs from Nov....

Tricare open season for enrollment changes runs from Nov. 8-Dec. 13, 2021.

Tricare Prime and Tricare Select members need to review their health care options to ensure they have the best plan for their needs.

Since 2019, members stopped being able to switch plans at will. Now, Tricare members can only choose a new plan during open enrollment or when they have a qualifying life event.

In addition, members of the Tricare Dental and Vision plans also need to spend some time reviewing their options. Membership eligibility for some military members or retirees has transitioned to the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP.)

TRICARE Open Season - Open Enrollment in TRICARE

Let’s dive into this a little more to explain this change and what it means for current Tricare members.

What is Open Season, and What Does it Mean for Military Members and Military Retirees?

Open season, or open enrollment, is the time of year when participants can change their health care plans. This is very common in the civilian world.

In general, participants can change their health care selection once per year, unless they have a qualifying life event. There are many life events that may qualify, such as the member or the spouse taking a new job, losing a job, getting married, moving and more. We’ll cover qualifying events in more detail later in this article.

Open enrollment helps health care providers reduce costs by maintaining more consistent enrollment throughout the year. It also reduces the associated costs of people changing plans at will.

Current Tricare members need to be aware of two different open enrollment seasons, Tricare Open Season and the Federal Benefits Open Season.

Tricare Open Season

Tricare open season is from Nov. 8 to Dec. 13, 2021. It applies to enrollment in a Tricare Prime or Tricare Select health care plan. It does not apply to other Tricare plans, such as:

Federal Benefits Open Season

Federal benefits open season is also from Nov. 8 to Dec. 13, 2021. It applies to military members or retirees who choose to purchase dental care or vision care through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP.)

  • FEDVIP Dental Program: The FEDVIP Dental program only applies to military retirees. (Tricare Dental is no longer available for military retirees, starting in 2019.) All other military members will continue to be eligible for the Tricare dental program. We have more information on the Military Retiree Dental Insurance program change.
  • FEDVIP Vision Program: The FEDVIP vision plan does not apply to active-duty military members.

When is Open Enrollment, and What Do I Need to Do?

Tricare open season for enrollment changes is from Nov. 8 to Dec. 13, 2021. The FEDVIP program has the same open-enrollment dates.

You need to do one thing today: Review your current health care selection, and ensure it still meets your needs.

You have three options:

  1. Do nothing. If you want to stay in your current Tricare health care plan, you don’t have to take any action. You’ll continue in your current health plan through 2021 or as long as you’re eligible.
  2. Enroll in a plan. If you’re eligible for a Tricare Prime option or Tricare Select but aren’t enrolled, you can enroll in a plan now.
  3. Change plans. If you’re already enrolled in a Tricare Prime option or Tricare Select, you can switch plans and switch between individual and family enrollment.

If your current plan is the one you want to continue using, then you don’t need to take any action. Your current enrollment should automatically roll over for next year. Keep in mind that since 2019, you can’t change your health care plan outside of the open season unless you have a qualifying life event (see next section for more information on this topic.)

If you aren’t currently enrolled in a Tricare plan, now is the time to enroll.

Finally, you have the option to change plans if doing so is a better option for you and your family.

Review your health care plan every year. Each year, you will need to review your health care selection to determine which plan you should be in. You should also review your health care plan each time you have a major life event or qualifying life event.

What are Qualifying Life Events?

A qualifying life event (QLE) is a major change in your life situation. QLEs allow you to enroll in or make changes to your health care plan outside of the normal open enrollment season.

It’s important to understand that each health care plan may have its own rules for qualifying life events. For example, the Tricare website lists 90 days as the window to make changes. The Healthcare.gov website lists 60 days as the window in which you can change your plan for health care plans available on the ACA Exchanges. Rules may also be different for federal health care plans, such as FEDVIP, FEHB, FSAFEDS or FEGLI.

A plan through your civilian employer may also have different rules (this could apply to those who have insurance through a spouse’s civilian employer or retirees who choose to use their employer’s health care plan). I recommend you check with your specific plan for more information.

Qualifying Life Events for Tricare

You can make changes to your Tricare plan within 90 days of a qualifying life event. However, note that some other health care plans may have a smaller window in which to make changes.

Below is a list of qualifying life events from the Tricare website. The Tricare website has much more information for each of these situations. I recommend doing a little more research into these life events to ensure they will qualify for your specific situation.

Military-Related Qualifying Life Events:

Family-Related Qualifying Life Events:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a baby or adopting
  • Children going to college
  • Children becoming adults
  • Becoming Medicare-eligible
  • Moving
  • Death in family
  • Losing or gaining other health insurance

Qualifying Life Events for FEDVIP

The Benefeds.gov website has more information regarding Qualifying Life Events for the FEDVIP healthcare plans. You can read more here. The Benefeds website lists the following QLEs:

  • Marriage
  • Lose Other Dental or Vision Coverage
  • Acquire a Family Member
  • Lose a Family Member
  • Return from Leave Without Pay
  • Return from Active Duty
  • Annuity or Compensation Restored
  • Move
  • Return to Active Duty
  • Transfer Positions

When and How Can I Change My Healthcare Plan?

You can only change your Tricare plan during Tricare open season or when you have a qualifying life event. The option you choose will remain in place for the duration of the calendar year unless you opt to change it after a qualifying event.

You can change your Tricare enrollment in the following ways:

You will be required to pay any enrollment costs (if any) at the time of enrollment.

Enrollment Eligibility:

The Tricare website has this helpful chart to help you determine when you can make changes to your Tricare healthcare or FEDVIP health care plan:

Military Status I want to change my Tricare plan I want to enroll in a FEDVIP vision plan I want to enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan
Active-duty service member You can only change plans if you’re retiring.
At retirement, coverage ends.
You do not qualify to purchase a FEDVIP vision plan. You will continue to get care as you do now. You do not qualify to purchase a FEDVIP dental plan. You will continue to get care as you do now.
Active-duty family member*
*Not including adult children enrolled in Tricare Young Adult
You can change plans during the Tricare open season. You must enroll during the Federal Benefits open season. You do not qualify to purchase a FEDVIP dental plan. You can get your dental care through the Tricare Dental Program.
Reserve Component member or family member enrolled in Reserve Select No action needed. This doesn’t apply to you. You must enroll during the Federal Benefits open season. You do not qualify to purchase a FEDVIP dental plan. You can get your dental care through the Tricare Dental Program.
Retired service member or family member enrolled in Tricare Prime, Tricare Select You can change plans during the Tricare open season. You must enroll during the Federal Benefits open season. TRDP ended on Dec. 31, 2018.
You must enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan during the Federal Benefits open season to maintain coverage.
Retired service member or family member using Tricare for Life No action needed. This doesn’t apply to you. You must enroll during Federal Benefits open season. TRDP ended on Dec. 31, 2018.
You must enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan during the Federal Benefits open season to maintain coverage.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Health care benefits frequently change. This is true for Tricare, FEDVIP, civilian health care plans and plans you may get through an employer. It’s not possible for our site to track all changes for all plans. So please consider this article to be informational only.

I strongly recommend you check regularly with your specific health care provider for more information. You can also see the Tricare website for some current open season FAQs.

Source:

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