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Retiree Dental Plan Delayed

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 1997 – Military retirees will have to wait a little longer for a dental plan. Responding to concerns from the dental care industry, Congress wants DoD to consider changing from a single national premium to a local or regional rate schedule.

Because the program was designed to be fully supported by premiums and member cost-shares, DoD health officials consider the industry concern fair and supportable.

"It's probably a good way to go," said Jean Storck, principal deputy for health services financing. "Our only concern is that we're going to delay offering the benefit for several months."

Storck said it's impossible to know how much premiums will be or how much they will vary across the nation. "We're waiting for the contract bidders to tell us," she said. She said she doesn't foresee any other changes to the previously announced plan.

Under the plan, military retirees and their families will gain access to low-cost dental insurance similar in scope to the active duty family dental plan. The plan will offer three enrollment options: single, two-party and family. Unremarried spouses of deceased retirees and some other limited categories of enrollment also will be offered.

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 two years. Excluding exams and cleanings, they must pay a $50 annual deductible before cost-share payments kick in. After paying the deductible, they will be billed 20 percent of cost for restorative care and sealants and 40 percent of cost for other services.

The company selected to provide the services will send information and enrollment forms to prospective members. Enrollees will receive a listing of participating dentists.

Storck said DoD will announce additional details, including the start-up date, once the contract is awarded.

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