Some Reserve, Guard members
must pay dental premiums directly
|By Karen Parish, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Beginning this month, some National Guard and Reserve
members will need to pay dental premiums directly rather than through
payroll deduction, a senior official of the TRICARE military health plan
A change to the TRICARE Dental Program means that payroll deduction for
premiums is not currently available to about 8,000 reserve-component
troops who are on orders to active duty for more than 30 days, Army
Brig. Gen. W. Bryan Gamble, deputy director of TRICARE Management
Activity, told American Forces Press Service.
Gamble said affected beneficiaries have been identified and will not
lose coverage. They will receive direct paper bills, and should make
their premium payments by check, electronic funds transfer or credit
card until the payroll deduction option becomes available, he said.
“Our priority is to ensure a smooth and effective transition on behalf
of the … enrollees,” the general said.
Gamble said Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, known as MetLife, is
the new contractor for the TRICARE Dental Program. The program provides
dental benefits for more than 2 million TRICARE beneficiaries worldwide.
Defense finance officials, TRICARE Management Activity representatives
and MetLife staffers are working out a long-term solution to the payroll
deduction issue, he added, and MetLife will keep affected beneficiaries
Service members who think they may be affected should check their leave
and earnings statements, and contact MetLife at 855-638-8371 if they do
not see a premium payment, he said.
MetLife offers slightly lower premiums and more extensive benefits than
were previously available in the program, Gamble said, including:
• An increase in the annual maximum to $1,300;
• An increase in the lifetime orthodontic maximum to $1,750;
• Additional $1,200 maximum per year for services related to accidents
• No cost shares for scaling and root planning for diabetics; and
• Coverage of an additional cleaning during pregnancy.
The program covers military Family members and reserve-component
servicemembers, Gamble said. He noted that active-duty servicemembers
and activated National Guard and reserve members are not eligible for
the program — though their Family members are — because they receive
military dental services at no charge.
“TRICARE began its partnership with MetLife (May 1) and, at 8:03 a.m.,
the first dental claim was paid under the new TRICARE Dental Program
contract,” the general said.
“The beneficiary went to an in-network dentist, (and) the claim was
reviewed and processed correctly,” he added. “This is just the first
claim, but we expect many more as TRICARE beneficiaries take advantage
of their enhanced dental benefits.”