The Officer March/April 2012 : Page 52

Star S induStry newS Jeanne Kouhestani • associate editor CuttinG teetH On BeneFitS Delta Dental insures against uncertainty. Choosing how to spend your post-Henry said. Tose who enroll in TRDP within retirement dollars to cover your basic needs can four months afer retirement have no waiting be a challenge, especially when it comes to a period for the more comprehensive treatments discretionary cost such as dental insurance. such as orthodontics, implants, and crowns. For service members who serve in the Tose who bypass that window of opportunity Reserve, Guard, and Active Components, the must wait a year before full benefits kick in, government covers much of the cost of individual although most routine treatments such as and family dental care during active service. gum treatments, fillings, root canals, and But those who are planning for retirement or extractions are covered from day one. Without are already retired must decide whether to insurance, preventive care is more likely to be enroll in the Tricare Retiree Dental Program skipped, potentially resulting in more serious (TRDP), where they will be responsible for the problems. P .t. henry, senior vice President for delta dental’s federal Government ProGrams full premium. Tey must determine whether the division. Sandra Silva PhotograPhy A Wide Network benefits of dental insurance outweigh the costs. Delta Dental has negotiated lower rates with dentists across The Officer took this question to Mr. P.T. Henry, senior the country, creating a vast network that is available to 99.5 vice president for the Federal Government Programs division percent of its enrollees—even those in remote rural areas. of Delta Dental of California. Delta Dental administers the Using a TRDP network dentist can decrease your copayment TRDP worldwide. for dental care by an average of 22 percent, Mr. Henry said— “We suggest that people thinking about dental insurance another benefit of paying insurance premiums versus paying think about it as insurance against uncertainty,” he said. “We full expenses as they occur. With a customer satisfaction rate of buy insurance; we hope we never need it, but we know that if 99.6 percent, as surveyed by the company, a high retention rate, things go south and we do need it, it’s going to be there to help and 4,000 to 5,000 new enrollees every month through word-us defray the costs.” of-mouth marketing, the program seems to work well. For Mr. Henry, assuming you won’t ever have an expensive Although insurance may seem expensive at first glance, dental problem is simplistic thinking because you can’t predict breaking down the numbers shows that it is not expensive for the future. Like any insurance, be it auto, homeowner, or what it provides, Mr. Henry said. “It’s a good investment. It’s a medical, dental insurance provides peace of mind, because you good way to spend the limited amount of money that it costs.”  know that a significant portion of unexpected expenses will be covered. But dental insurance carries more tangible benefits as well. Oral health affects general medical health. Bacteria from infections in the mouth, for example, can enter the bloodstream The Bottom Line and affect other areas of the body. Proper oral care—two annual Let’s break down the costs. An individual enrolled in dental visits with diagnostics, cleaning, and x-rays—helps the TRDP pays on average $501 for an annual premium. dentists catch small problems before they grow into serious, Two annual preventative visits with X-rays average $438. expensive, and painful problems. “So, for an enrollee who pays Subtracting that from the $501 premium leaves $63 for premiums, two preventive visits to the dentist are basically free remaining protection, or less than $6 a month. because those costs are included in the premium,” Mr. Henry A root canal, an extensive dental procedure, could cost said. What’s lef, he added, is on average about $6 a month for about $1360 without insurance; with insurance, $397. A an individual premium, which will insure against unexpected crown would be another $1,250 or so without insurance; dental expenses. $483 with insurance. For a program overview, visit: Tough tempting, waiting to buy insurance until you think you might need it could prove to be a costly mistake, Mr. 52 the O fficer / M arch –a pril 2012

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