Today and tomorrow are important open season deadlines for military families when it comes to health care and a new child care benefit.

11:59 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, Dec. 11, is the deadline for service members to enroll in the new Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. It’s also the sign-up deadline for those eligible for dental and vision coverage under the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program, or FEDVIP. Most retirees and their families are eligible for dental and vision coverage under FEDVIP. Families of currently serving members are eligible for the vision coverage under FEDVIP. These currently serving families are eligible for the Tricare Dental Program, which requires separate enrollment.

11:59 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow, Dec. 12 is the deadline for enrolling in or making changes to your Tricare plan. If you don’t want to make changes, you don’t have to take any action.

The new Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account is available to active duty members, as well as members of the Active Guard Reserve on Title 10 orders. The flexible spending account helps defray the cost of child care and other dependent care by providing tax savings. It’s part of the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program, known as FSAFEDS, which is sponsored by the Office of Personnel Management.

Families can contribute as little as $100, and as much as $5,000 over the year to this account. Eligible expenses include child or adult day care, preschool, summer day camps, and before- or after-school programs.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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