By: Patricia Kime, Military Times

Military retirees and family members who have dental or vision coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Benefits Program, or FEDVIP, will see their premiums rise next year.

The Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday that the premium rates for 2020 for FEDVIP plans will increase on average by 5.6 percent for dental plans and by 1.5 percent for vision plans.

The rises follow a historically low bump last year but are comparable to average rate increases for previous years, according to OPM officials. Tricare beneficiaries, however, have yet to experience any shifts in FEDVIP premiums since they only became eligible to enroll in the federally managed dental program or vision program beginning last year.

The OPM announcement was made in anticipation of open enrollment season, during which beneficiaries can switch insurance plans within FEDVIP. Open enrollment season begins Nov. 11 and runs through Dec. 9. The new coverage year begins Jan. 1.

More than 1.4 million Tricare beneficiaries enrolled last year in FEDVIP, including nearly 1.2 million military retirees and family members previously enrolled in the Tricare Retiree Dental Program — an insurance plan offered by Delta Dental of California that was discontinued in 2018.

At least 300,000 Tricare beneficiaries, including active-duty family members, enrolled in a FEDVIP vision plan last year as well.

FEDVIP offers 15 dental plan options with at least 10 available to enrollees. It also includes eight vision plans to choose from.

According to the new 2020 rates for dental plans, monthly rates range from $12.26 to $61.21 for an individual, $31.61 to $122.42 for an individual plus one other person, and $36.75 to $175.87 for a family, depending on plan and geographic region.

The 2020 rates for vision coverage range from $6.89 to $14.41 for an individual, $13.78 to $28.86 for an individual plus one and $20.58 to $43.31 for an individual and a family.

Last year, the monthly dental rates ranged from a low of $18.81 for a single person to $171.45 for a family, while vision rates cost between $6.74 for an individual to $43.38 for a family.

Dental plan rates vary based on amount of coverage as well as the geographic region where services are provided.

In 2019, premium rates for FEDVIP and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or FEHB, increased an average of 1.3 percent, the smallest rate increase since 1996. The rate remained low last year because Congress waived a Health Insurance Providers Fee required by the Affordable Care Act. But the fee was not waived this year, which influenced the 2020 premium rate increases, OPM officials said.

The Health Insurance Providers Fee, which the IRS estimated this year amounts to $15.5 billion, applies to a number of insurers, including several who offer plans in FEDVIP and FEHBP.

A plan comparison tool is offered at benefeds.com and is expected to contain 2020 plan information in the coming weeks.

During open enrollment season, Tricare beneficiaries also will have an opportunity to switch between Tricare Prime and Tricare Select. After the season is over, patients can only switch plans or enroll after a life qualifying event such as marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, retiring or losing other health benefits.