Want Extra Vision Insurance? Get It Through FEDVIP

(U.S. Air Force/Benjamin W. Stratton)
(U.S. Air Force/Benjamin W. Stratton)

Military family members and retirees interested in vision insurance should know that they are eligible to enroll in the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP).

While some Tricare plans offer limited vision exam benefits -- usually only every two years unless there is another health problem -- they offer very limited glasses or contact lens coverage.

In 2019, military family members and retirees became eligible for FEDVIP, which is the same insurance program offered to federal civilian employees and retirees. FEDVIP is part of the federal benefits program (BENEFEDS).

FEDVIP is available to:

  • Active-duty family members
  • National Guard and Reserve members and their family members
  • Retired service members and their eligible family members
  • Tricare for Life beneficiaries

Eligible members can sign up for the FEDVIP vision program only during a once-annual, monthlong open enrollment period, commonly referred to as "open season." Open season runs every year from the Monday of the second full week in November to the Monday of the second full week in December. For 2022 the FEDVIP vision insurance open season ran from Nov. 14 – Dec. 12, 2022. 

Outside of the annual open season, users can enroll in or change their vision coverage only if they experience a "qualifying life event" (QLE). Those include a move or the birth of a baby. FEDVIP's QLEs are similiar to those of Tricare.

QLEs for FEDVIP include:

  • Marriage
  • Adding a family member
  • Losing a family member
  • Return from leave without pay
  • Annuity or compensation restored
  • Move
  • Return to active duty
  • Military retirement

Members have their choice of about 10 different vision insurance packages with both high and low coverage (and corresponding premium rates), family coverage, coverage for one person only or coverage for two people. Some even offer discounts on laser eye surgery.

Most FEDVIP plans permit one vision exam every 12 months, as well as discounted or free glasses or contacts. Check out the FEDVIP website to see what plans are available to you. You can also use the website to compare plans and make sure you purchase only the coverage you need.

If you are currently enrolled in a vision insurance plan through FEDVIP and want to keep the same coverage next year, you do not need to do anything; your coverage will continue uninterrupted. However, if you wish to enroll in a new vision insurance program, or change the one you are currently enrolled in, you must do it before the end of open enrollment, or wait another year.

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