TRICARE Dental: Frustrations Continue With New Network Changes
We asked you to tell us your thoughts about the new United Concordia TRICARE Dental Program (TDP) contract. And we heard you loud and clear: you’re not happy.
With TRICARE, contract changes are a fact of life and there is always some level of discontent with those changes. We have been vigorously working on this issue for your military family.
So what’s the real problem here?
There are two parties responsible for the quality of the TRICARE Dental Program benefit. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is responsible for procurement and oversight of the TDP contract, while United Concordia (the contractor) is responsible for administering the dental benefit. We have met with both DHA and United Concordia and told them about your frustrations with the new TDP network. Some of those concerns are:
Reduced choice of dental providers for military families who are trying to minimize their out-of-pocket expenses by using network providers
Concerns about the quality of dental care provided by dentists who are willing to accept the lower reimbursement rates
Disrupted care by requiring provider changes for a population that already sacrifices continuity of care with each PCS move
It is important to note that we are not saying these complaints are universal—certain areas are experiencing more network churn than others. However, the range and intensity of the outcry we’ve heard from you seems more pronounced than we have experienced with past contract transitions.
There is clearly a problem...at least in certain areas.
But DHA and United Concordia are both holding firm that there is no problem with the TRICARE Dental Program networks. DHA says the terms of the contract have not changed, and United Concordia contends that they are meeting the contractual access standards (a general dentist within 35 miles and an appointment available within 21 days). United Concordia emphasizes that network issues are isolated and they are currently working to resolve problem areas such as Tidewater, Fort Leavenworth, and Fort Campbell.
We know most military families haven’t had issues finding a dentist within the 35 mile range, who can see them within 21 days. But it seems that the value of the TRICARE Dental Program benefit has been diminished for a pretty significant segment of military families. Specifically for families who have to switch dentists, families who have to travel further for dental care, and families who are no longer confident in the quality of care provided by network dentists who are willing to accept reduced reimbursements.
We have exhausted our options with DHA and United Concordia. They believe the stories and experiences we are hearing from military families, like yours, and from dentists are simply part of the typical contract transition. Unfortunately, it is impossible for our organization to singlehandedly quantify how many families are negatively affected by the new network.
That’s why we need your help.
If you are unhappy with the new TRICARE Dental Program network, please contact your Members of Congress and let them know why. It’s not tough, we promise! We’ve provided a couple tools to help you below. You might be skeptical that your message will make a difference, but all offices have staff to monitor emails. Be assured your message will be read. Your voices will help us make the case that military families deserve a high quality dental benefit!
Posted May 25, 2017