Until Dec. 9, current Tricare beneficiaries will be able to renew or change their health care plans for next year, while others who were not enrolled in Tricare can sign up. When it's not open season, people can switch to Tricare only if they have a "qualifying life event," or QLE, like a military move or the birth of a child.
No action is needed for Tricare beneficiaries who don't want to change their plan; their coverage will continue throughout 2020 or until they are ineligible.
Open season is also the window to get coverage for those who failed to enroll during previous eligibility. For example, a parent who forgot to enroll a newborn for coverage must wait until open enrollment to remedy the problem. Those who are eligible but not enrolled can only get health care at a military hospital or clinic on a space-available basis, and that care does not qualify as "minimal essential coverage" under the Affordable Care Act.
For active-duty families, open season is the only time outside of a QLE to change from Tricare Prime to Tricare Select or vice versa. Tricare Prime comes with no out-of-pocket costs, allows users to be seen on base and requires referrals for specialty care. Tricare Select requires copays but allows users to self-refer and be seen in the community outside of the Military Treatment Facility system.
Open season is also the only time military retirees and their families can switch from Tricare Prime Retiree to Tricare Select Retiree outside of a QLE. While coverages are similar to the plans offered to active-duty families, the out-of-pocket costs are different.
Though separate, it is also open enrollment for the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Dental and Vision Insurance Program.
-- Dorothy Mills-Gregg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.