Changes Coming to the TRICARE Dental Program

TRICARE Dental Program Changes

Changes are coming for military families covered by the TRICARE Dental Program. United Concordia will begin administering the TRICARE Dental Program as of May 1, 2017 for dependents of active duty, National Guard, and Reserve service members. Retirees and their families are not affected by this change and will still be covered under a separate TRICARE dental program. 

What’s changing with the dental plan? Certain coverages are expanding under United Concordia, including the annual maximum benefit, which will increase from $1,300 to $1,500. Sealants, a preventative that families used to pay a 20% cost share for, will now have no out-of-pocket cost.

The TRICARE Dental Plan will also start enrolling children automatically when they hit age 1 if the family already has at least one member covered under the plan. Currently, children aren’t automatically enrolled until they reach age 4.

But not all changes are good. We have heard from several families that their dentists are leaving the TRICARE network due to United Concordia’s reimbursement rates. This means families who want to minimize their costs by using a network dentist may have to switch dental providers.

If your dentist is dropping out of the network, you can still see them, however you will have higher out–of-pocket costs, and you may have more paperwork. Military families will be responsible for paying the difference between United Concordia’s allowed fee and the amount charged by the non-network dentist. That’s in addition to the applicable cost-share percentage. 

That leaves military families to make a decision: do you switch to a new dentist, or pay more out-of-pocket costs?  

How much can families expect to pay out-of-pocket with a non-network dentist? Out-of-pocket costs will vary based on what your dentist charges compared to the TRICARE allowed amount.

I used a recent Explanation of Benefits to calculate what we might pay for a preventative visit. My daughter recently had a regular dental check-up, including a cleaning, evaluation, fluoride application, and two bitewing x-rays. TRICARE covers 100% of preventative dental visits and since we used a network dentist, we paid nothing out-of-pocket. Once our dentist leaves the network, we will pay about $56 out-of-pocket for this type of visit--the difference between what our dentist charges ($192) and TRICARE’s “allowed amount” ($136).

Contract transitions inevitably lead to changes in provider networks. However, we are concerned about the number of dentists who seem to be leaving the TRICARE network under United Concordia. We have expressed our concerns to the Defense Health Agency and will continue to monitor the situation. Military families deserve a robust network of dental providers that allows them access to quality dental care while managing their out of pocket costs.

Has your dentist left the network? Use United Concordia’s online Find a Dentist  tool to check and let us know. We will use this information to understand how the new United Concordia contract is impacting military families.

Posted April 10, 2017


From: Sandra on: September 18, 2018
I didn’t know that this change happened and my dentist didn’t tell me for a year that they didn’t accept Tricare’s new contractor. When I called Tricare, they said that the dentist should have notified me but then the dentist said that Tricare should have notified me. Who is the responsible party?
From: Tera on: July 12, 2018
This change has been terrible. We've recently moved and all the good dentists in PA and our new home in NC have dropped UC. We did not have dental care for a year because the few places that accepted UC were overbooked. We now pay the difference at an out of network providers.
From: na on: May 21, 2018
United Concordia does not provide as much coverage as Met-Life! Normally when my kid has a regular cleaning, there is no out of pocket for our part. Last time, we have to pay $41. Now, on my 6 months cleaning, my dentist bill me $105 for panoramic X-ray and they did not event negotiate the rate for me which Met-life would. They are the worst insurance ever! Please go back to Met-life!
From: Ashley on: May 7, 2018
This switch to UC has been a mess for my family. The dentist that my child was being seen by dropped out of the network and due to the extensive dental work needed my family would have to pay over $2,500. The best I have found around my area for pediatric dentist and accepting UC is we would have to front 50% of the treatment. What is the point of even having the insurance if we have to pay for 50-100%? Cannot say I had these complaints with Metlife. The customer service of UC is subpar as well.
From: Kim on: May 2, 2017
A routine cleaning and exam will now cost $68.60 at our current dentist, whereas it used to be $0 out of pocket. Have tried finding a new dentist, but all the good dentists are opting out as well. And the list of dentists you linked to is NOT current. I called 3 dentists on that list and they're all in the process of opting out. I called Tricare and they said it'll take 60-90 days to remove them from that list. I am glad someone has this on their radar and that the Defense Health Agency has been notified.
From: William on: April 17, 2017
The UC original fee reimbursement in 1996 (over 20 years ago) was higher than the 2017 schedule. I feel sure that no dental specialist, especially Pediatric Dentists, will be in-network with UC.
From: National Military Family Association on: April 17, 2017
Thanks for all your feedback! We are going to continue digging into this and will keep you posted as we learn more.
From: Lisa Miller on: April 12, 2017
Our dentist will be leaving the network as of June 1 in the DC area. We have used them for almost 8 years.
From: Brenda on: April 11, 2017
Our dentist, oral surgeon, and orthodontist will all be out-of-network.
From: Brittany on: April 10, 2017
This change has been miserable for us. We haven't been able to find new dentists who will accept this inadequate replacement. My son is young and needs a lot of dental work and we've just been dropped by his dentist bc the new reimbursement rates are so poor. Please help! We live in a very lucrative are bc of the location of the base we're at now. If we can't find dentists who accept the new plan here, where dentists are EVERYWHERE, I can't imagine when we're someplace more remote.
From: Carolyn on: April 10, 2017
Yep, my dentist is gone and of course my kids and I all have appointments in May. I guess it would have been nice had my dentist also notified me that they would no longer be a participating provider. I hate having to seek out a new dentist when we aren't even PCSing.
From: Michelle on: April 10, 2017
My dentist will not be accepting United Concordia due to the extremely small reimbursements they will pay. They told me they will be less that what they get paid from Medicaid! Seriously?? I don't understand why DHA felt it was necessary to change the dental insurance to such a horrible plan with UC. Sure, it looks great that they are giving us a few things, but if you can't find a dentist that will even take the insurance, where does that leave you? I was just at my dental office for a cleaning/checkup and found that if I decide to stay with them and pay the difference, I am looking at around $80+ for this type of a visit-times 3 since I have 2 kids! I don't even want to know what I would have to pay for other more expensive procedures.
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