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Scene, Sunday, August 5, 2007

Q. We live in a “remote” area but have had a dentist here since we arrived last summer in addition to monthly ortho visits. We were told recently that our dental clinic was closing and we would no longer have ortho either.

So far we have been given no assistance in finding a dentist or an orthodontist. We have had nobody from DENTAC or United Concordia have an open session for residents to explain the changes and how to access dental care. I am very disappointed by how we are being dumped from the system with no assistance.

— Renee in Garmisch

A. After you posted your comment on the Spouse Calls blog, The Europe Regional Dental Command formally announced the facility in Garmisch will close on Sept 28. To find out more about the situation there, I contacted Dr. George Schad, who handles dental issues for Tricare in Europe.

“The dentist who is assigned there is leaving soon,” Dr. Schad said. “He is working to develop written guidance and information that will inform the base population about their options for getting dental care in the civilian community.”

Dr. Schad said families in the Garmisch area will need to enroll in the Tricare Dental Plan to utilize United Concordia Companies, Inc. insurance for civilian care.

On the positive side, UCCI provides 100 percent coverage for most routine dental procedures overseas. Read the details online at:

On the down side, families must contact the dentist, manage the language barrier, pay up front and request reimbursement from UCCI.

So the gap for overseas dental insurance is not in amount of coverage, but in services linking patients to civilian providers. I asked Dr. Schad about the differences between UCCI services overseas and in the States, where forms are filed by the dentist, and payments are made directly to care providers.

“Their contract calls for them to offer those services in the U.S.,” he said. “Whereas, when the Tricare Dental Plan was brought overseas, there were no contract provisions made for UCCI to develop a network or do anything other than pay the claims as they were presented from the overseas locations.”

Dr. Schad said this issue is being addressed by a planned change in the contract, “which will require a verification of all of the host nation dental providers as well as the effort to get them to sign up to become Tricare OCONUS-preferred dentists,” meaning they file their own paperwork and are paid directly by UCCI for most routine care.

In addition to the list of “preferred” providers on Tricare’s Web site, there is a longer “verified” list. Verified providers have been visited and evaluated by a U.S. military dentist and meet 20 criteria, Dr. Schad explained. The major items include: the dentist speaks English, is a graduate of a dental school, licensed in country, the facility sterilizes instruments, and providers wear mask and gloves during treatment.

Families in Garmisch are not the only ones seeing reduced military dental care.

“We are gradually seeing the effects of this diminishing capability to treat family members in the military clinics,” Dr. Schad said. “The result is more usage of the TDP, and hence the efforts … to meet these increased demands, and to make bill paying and claim filing less of a challenge for the TDP beneficiaries.”

Find out about specific coverage and how to access it at or and by asking questions at your military dental facility.

Terri Barnes is a military spouse stationed in Germany. Read more about this issue on the Spouse Calls Blog. Send questions or comments to Terri at


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