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New Dental Plan to Cover Military Retirees

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 3, 1997 – Military retirees and their families will soon have access to low-cost dental insurance similar in scope to the active-duty family dental plan.

As early as Oct. 1, the retiree dental program will begin offering military retirees, their spouses and dependent children dental coverage to include basic diagnostic, preventive and restorative dental services, dental surgery and emergency examinations. The exact date of availability and actual costs will depend on the contract, which has not yet been awarded.

"The request for purchase has gone out, but obviously it will take time for the company awarded the contract to market the program and enroll members," said Air Force Dr. (Col.) Marvin Bennett, senior DoD dental consultant. "The plan is quite simple, however, so it shouldn't be too difficult to start up. We're reasonably optimistic it will start on time."

The plan will be offered at little cost to DoD. Premiums withdrawn from monthly retiree paychecks, and member cost-shares will fund the plan, Bennett said. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service will provide financial management. Because the contract hasn't been awarded, however, Bennett said he doesn't know how much the premiums will be.

The plan will offer three enrollment rates: single, two-party and family. Unremarried spouses of deceased retirees and some other limited enrollment categories also will be offered, Bennett said.

The premiums will cover one basic examination and one cleaning per enrollment year. New members will be required to pay the first four months' premiums when they enroll and must enroll for a full year. Excluding exams and cleanings, they must pay a $50 annual deductible before cost-share payments kick in, Bennett said. After paying the deductible, they will be billed just 20 percent of costs for restorative care and sealants and 40 percent of costs for other services. The contractor will directly reimburse participating dentists for remaining costs.

The plan may offer a network of dentists, but it won't deny care received from nonnetwork dentists, Bennett said.

"Because of the range of ages the program covers, it will offer a fairly broad spectrum of services," he said. "However, it may not be as desirable for some older folks, who tend to need crown and bridge work the plan doesn't cover. Before enrolling, people should carefully weigh the plan's benefits against their dental needs."

The contractor will send information and enrollment forms to prospective members. Health benefits advisers at military hospitals and clinics also will offer assistance, he said.

"The retiree dental program will give many military retirees access to low-cost dental work they haven't had before," Bennett said. "It will take care of a large portion of our retiree population."

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