2020 Tricare Open Season – How to Enroll in Tricare or Change Your Healthcare Plan

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TRICARE Open Season - Open Enrollment in TRICARE
Tricare Open Season for enrollment changes is from Nov. 9, 2020 – Dec. 14, 2020. TricarePrime and Tricare Select members need to review their healthcare options to ensure they have the best plan for their needs. Starting in 2019, members will no longer be able to switch plans at will – they will only be…

Tricare Open Season for enrollment changes is from Nov. 9, 2020 – Dec. 14, 2020.

TricarePrime and Tricare Select members need to review their healthcare options to ensure they have the best plan for their needs. Starting in 2019, members will no longer be able to switch plans at will – they will only be able to do so 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 is transitioning 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 & Military Retirees?

Open Season, or Open Enrollment, is the time of year when participants can change their healthcare plans. These are very common in the civilian world. In general, participants can change their healthcare 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 healthcare 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. 9, 2020 – Dec. 14, 2020. It applies to enrollment in a Tricare Prime or Tricare Select healthcare plan. It does not apply to other Tricare plans, such as:

Federal Benefits Open Season

Federal Benefits Open Season is also from Nov. 9, 2020 – Dec. 14, 2020. 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. 9, 2020 – Dec. 14, 2020. The FEDVIP program has the same open enrollment dates.

You need to do one thing today: Review your current healthcare 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 2020 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 not 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 the 2019 Open Season, you can’t change your healthcare plan 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 if 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 healthcare plan every year. Each year you will need to review your healthcare 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.

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 healthcare plan outside of the normal Open Enrollment Season.

It’s important to understand that each healthcare 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 healthcare plans available on the ACA Exchanges. Rules may also be different for federal healthcare 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 for 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 healthcare 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:

  • Activating or Deactivating
  • Injured on Active Duty
  • Moving or PCS
  • Separating from Active Duty
  • Retiring

Family-Related Qualifying Life Events:

  • Getting Married or Divorced
  • Having a Baby or Adopting
  • Children go to College
  • Children Become Adults
  • Becoming Medicare-Eligible
  • Moving
  • Death in Family
  • Loss or Gain of 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 healthcare plan:

Military StatusI want to change my TRICARE planI want to enroll in a FEDVIP vision planI want to enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan
Active Duty Service MemberYou 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 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 TRICARE Reserve SelectNo action needed. This doesn’t apply to you. You must enroll during 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 Enrolled in TRICARE Prime, TRICARE SelectYou can change plans during the TRICARE Open Season.You must enroll during Federal Benefits Open Season.TRDP ends on Dec. 31, 2018.

You must enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan during 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 ends on Dec. 31, 2018.
You must enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan during Federal Benefits Open Season to maintain coverage.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Healthcare benefits frequently change. This is true for Tricare, FEDVIP, civilian healthcare 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 healthcare provider for more information. You can also see the Tricare website for some current open season FAQs.

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

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  1. Mikeal Eberhard says

    You know…….I have retired in the Republic of Panama with my wife, doing so in 2006. I did my homework before we made the move, calling both Tricare and the hospital in Panama that provided service to Tricare recipients. I was told that coverage was available for both hospitals and doctors and they would even submit our claims. I might add that Tricare was not forthcoming with very much info and only after prodding said Tricare wa accepted and they had quite a few retirees using services in Panama.

    Upon arrival, we found that the VFW and Tricare were hosting a conference for retirees, which included FMP. They went through the claim procedure an warned against wholesale fraud that that occurred a few years back. They explained they had visited various providers and told them they could not charge what they wanted but had to at least earn their fee.

    Fast forward a few years, Tricare came out with a fee schedule that not only was a fraction of what reasonable charges were but caused the providers totally reject Tricare patients. We wrote, called and even talked to Tricare on their periodic visits to no avail. They “stonewalled” our complaints continued with the “secret”as to what motivated there reasons for “third world” reimbursement. The only info that we received was reimbursement was initially based on charges in Puerto Rico along with other factors. The last Tricare visit to Panama was well attended as expectations were high for a change to reasonable reimbursement but as one veterans remarked, “nothing has change.” Many of us just left as our time and attention were wasted. It is hard to believe that we can go to well trained professionals and well equipped hospitals that refuse to take us as patients. These doctors know what is reimbursed in Miami and they understand the extent of Medicare/Medicaid fraud in South Florida and know that only a fraction of the abusers are held accountable while they are allowed $28 for a physcian visit and hospitals charge thousands of dollars for a simple emergency room visit. Panama did in fact have a fraud issue, well befor the 12 years ago when I arrived, and it seems as if we the veterans are receiving the punishment for that issue. As a former retired active duty medical person and a hospital administrator in the State of Florida, I can vouch for the fact that Tricare recipients in Panama are not being treated fairly and thus are receiving services far less than our dedicated service deserves. (just kmy 2 cents worth)

  2. Charlie Borges says

    I have Tricare for life and want to make sure I am signed up for vision care for my wife. who do I call for this information?

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