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My experience with Tricare Retiree Dental Plan
Old 07-31-2015, 07:28 AM   #1
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My experience with Tricare Retiree Dental Plan

I just found this site. THis is my first post. I retired many years ago on Sept 30, 1976, and want to relay my experience with Tricare Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP). In 1976, there was no internet or any easy way to shop for dental plans. I had never needed a dental plan so this was new to me. I falsely assumed that the government program was the best deal. I rarely went to the dentist before and after I retired. NOw that I am older, I need major dental work and recently found out how terrible TDRP is. It is very expensive and the benefits are not that great. In my case, I spent thousands of dollars in insarance premiums for perhaps 2 or 3 tooth extractions and maybe preventative dental care only once or twice. I shopped around and found many dental plans that cost much less than TRDP, and had benefits similar to those of TRDP. So for new retirees, please take the time and search for dental plans, which can easily be done via the internet and make an informed decision on what is best for you. I think I read that the Tricare dental premiums are not subsidized for retirees like they are for active duty personnel, If true, then there should be government recommendations issued to soon-to-be retirees to shop for dental plans.
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:38 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. I just read your bio - if you haven't already done so, you need to write a book!

On the subject of dental insurance, I've not found any coverage on the open market that's worth the premium. If you don't have employer provided insurance it is probably best to go commando on your choppers.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:45 PM   #3
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Agreed. I've always found, after analyzing plans and comparing to my own experience, that there are no ordinary dental insurance plans that are worthwhile.

Personally, I'm one of the lucky ones, because we have a subsidized plan through DW's former employer. I keep track of the billing and what we pay, and we always come out several hundred dollars ahead every year, net of the insurance premiums (the remainder is the company subsidy).

We have an outstanding local dentist, but he is religious about billing us for every penny of his charges that the insurance doesn't pay. I think most dentists are probably similar. If you can negotiate a cash discount with your dentist, that's probably your best bet, and I would certainly try to work that out if we didn't have a good plan.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:39 PM   #4
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If you can negotiate a cash discount with your dentist, that's probably your best bet, and I would certainly try to work that out if we didn't have a good plan.
+1

We've had the same dentist since the late 80's. He knows we have no insurance and gives us a discount of 10% to 20%, depending on the work he has to do. Not a fantastic deal, but better than nothing.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:45 PM   #5
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I found dentalplans with premiums around $10 /month for individuals. I did not conduct an in-depth analysis of the coverages, but it appeared from the advertisements that the coverages were similar to TRDP. Perhaps a closer look would have provided different results. I am still shopping for a good plan. THe dental plans that I looked at were not insurance plans. They use a network of dentists that agree to lower rates. I did not see any restrictions for pre-conditions. In fact, they advertised that there were no restrictions for preconditions. The dentists in the networks perform the work at "agreed=to" rates with their providers, so it appears to me that good dentists that are networked get extra business that they perform at reduced rates. Maybe I am missing something, but I am still shopping for a good plan and will drop TRDP if and when I find a reasonable plan.
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:47 PM   #6
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+1

We've had the same dentist since the late 80's. He knows we have no insurance and gives us a discount of 10% to 20%, depending on the work he has to do. Not a fantastic deal, but better than nothing.
Kinda the same here. I've had the same dentist for many years, before and after ER. I pay cash now. Before it was part of w*rk benefits. He may not give me 10-20% off, now that I have no dental insurance, but he does give a 5% discount, if you pay the day of service, because he doesn't have to go thru the insurance bureaucracy with me. But his service and his staff are so top-notch, compared to previous dentists, that it's worth not getting a huge discount.

BTW: In my youth, nearby college dental schools provided free service, even to non-college staff and students. Is that still true today?
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Old 07-31-2015, 08:27 PM   #7
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Dental care for military retirees is basically non-existent. A far cry from what we were lead to believe so many years ago. Back then, on active duty, it was unusual to visit the dental clinic without seeing a couple of retirees there waiting to see the Doc. But now due to all the base closings, and the low priority of retirees at what facilities that are still open, it's now basically pay your own way. I've looked at the Delta Dental Plan on several occasions, and I just can't see where it does anything beneficial for me. Copays, deductibles, however they're worded, are just too large. I'm not adverse to paying something as long as it's reasonably cheaper than paying out of pocket.
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Old 08-01-2015, 04:02 PM   #8
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On the subject of dental insurance, I've not found any coverage on the open market that's worth the premium. If you don't have employer provided insurance it is probably best to go commando on your choppers.
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Dental care for military retirees is basically non-existent. A far cry from what we were lead to believe so many years ago. Back then, on active duty, it was unusual to visit the dental clinic without seeing a couple of retirees there waiting to see the Doc. But now due to all the base closings, and the low priority of retirees at what facilities that are still open, it's now basically pay your own way. I've looked at the Delta Dental Plan on several occasions, and I just can't see where it does anything beneficial for me. Copays, deductibles, however they're worded, are just too large. I'm not adverse to paying something as long as it's reasonably cheaper than paying out of pocket.
Same here. Every time I compare the premiums it's more money for the insurance than the cost of the visits.

When I retired from active duty, our daughter's pediatric dentist immediately gave us a 25% cash discount. We negotiated another discount from the orthodontist. Compared to dental insurance plans, those were a wash.

My spouse and I visit a dentist every 2-3 years for X-rays, exam, and cleaning: under $200. If I do the visit in Bangkok then it's under $50. Even a $10/month insurance policy is more expensive than either of those options... and some policies might cost as much as the round-trip plane tickets.

The problem with the dental insurance decision is that everyone has different dental genes and dental hygiene. I've cut way back on the sugar and invested in an electric toothbrush, a fluoride rinse, and bales of dental floss. So far so good.

However others seem to have frequent root canals or even cavities and periodontia. For those situations it's probably better to carry dental insurance.
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:22 PM   #9
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My wife and I would be running into this issue when she officially retires from the Army next month...been doing some comparisons with available "well rated" dental plans (i.e. A or better) and it is looking like the TRDP, when compared to similar coverage/services it offers and the associated costs/copay, is actually quite competitive ($73.88 per month for the two of us)...without the 12-month waiting period for certain restorative services I see in some plans.
Unlike Nords, we are not quite blessed with great dental genes so would need some dental insurance moving forward.
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:17 AM   #10
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...been doing some comparisons with available "well rated" dental plans (i.e. A or better) and it is looking like the TRDP, when compared to similar coverage/services it offers and the associated costs/copay, is actually quite competitive ($73.88 per month for the two of us)...without the 12-month waiting period for certain restorative services I see in some plans.
Unlike Nords, we are not quite blessed with great dental genes so would need some dental insurance moving forward.
Yowza. That's more than the Tricare health insurance premium, too!

I don't understand how I'm avoiding cavities, root canals, and gum disease. (If I did, I'd license it and start a new blog.) But after 13 years I might have saved enough on premiums to pay for a full set of dentures...
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:20 AM   #11
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We had a dentist for years, he was ok, but honestly it was the dental hygienist that did most of the work.
Once we retired, I emailed and asked what would he charge for cleaning,checkup,x-ray without insurance, his price was the same as when we had insurance.
We went to another one much closer to try him out and it was about 1/2 the cost.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:04 AM   #12
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I had Delta Dental through w*rk for many years and it was worth the $2 per month I had to contribute to the premium. As a retired person, I enrolled in Delta as an individual, for $12 a month. But I cancelled after I discovered that what they told me at the 800 number was incorrect, and that my coverage was not as good as they promised.


At this point there is no other dental insurance I can find that is worth it.


I like and trust my dentist but he is expensive. And he doesn't take any discount programs or cards. No discounts except 5% off if cash paid for bill over $1000.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:19 AM   #13
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My Medicaid covers basic dental, cleaning, x-rays and fillings. It doesn't cover anything else like crowns, bridges, root canals, or implants. They say Medicaid dentistry is basically pulling your teeth out.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:30 AM   #14
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My Medicaid covers basic dental, cleaning, x-rays and fillings. It doesn't cover anything else like crowns, bridges, root canals, or implants. They say Medicaid dentistry is basically pulling your teeth out.
Jim, that sounds like good deal, if it's free! That's all my Delta individual policy was covering, but I had the premiums and copays and deductibles to pay too.
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Old 08-02-2015, 08:40 AM   #15
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Jim, that sounds like good deal, if it's free! That's all my Delta individual policy was covering, but I had the premiums and copays and deductibles to pay too.
No co-pays that I can see. Kinda afraid of Medicaid dentists, people have told me they like to pull teeth. Don't want to get knocked out, and wake up with dentures.
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Old 08-02-2015, 09:23 AM   #16
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I'm about 1 year out from military retirement and too, unlike Nords, have terrible dental genes. Dental care has been one of the most lucrative economic benefits of my military career. Fortunately, I'm at a large base with multiple dental specialists who are giving me a complete dental restoration in my last year--a $30-45K value. After reading this discussion, I'm going to put that on the assets column of my net worth! And, give serious thought to my dental plan.

If anyone is approaching a military retirement, I highly recommend approaching the dental clinic about an exit strategy--even if is to replace any aging crowns. They are surprisingly receptive to preparing you to enter the world of civilian dentistry.

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Old 08-02-2015, 08:35 PM   #17
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We had a dentist for years, he was ok, but honestly it was the dental hygienist that did most of the work.
Once we retired, I emailed and asked what would he charge for cleaning,checkup,x-ray without insurance, his price was the same as when we had insurance.
We went to another one much closer to try him out and it was about 1/2 the cost.
This could very well be my route. I have COBRA for the next 36 months (18 months COBRA/18 months CAL-COBRA in California). Been with the same dentist for over 10 years with employer coverage but he's in a swanky office in Beverly Hills so there's a good chance he may not reduce rates for me privately. Until I leave Southern California, another alternative I may explore is just over the border in Mexico. I've heard good success stories so when the time comes I'll probably at least investigate.
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