September 15, 2017

BCBS selected to provide dental coverage

DENTAL INSIDE 2During an exam, dentists can check a patient’s oral and overall health. About 90 percent of all systemic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, have oral health symptoms, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.

UAB offers dental insurance during the annual open enrollment for benefits, and eligible employees of UAB, UAB Hospital and UAB Hospital Management LLC will have the option to choose or decline that coverage between 7 a.m. Oct. 27 and 5 p.m. Nov. 13.

This is an active open enrollment, which means that any benefit eligible employee who does not select a 2018 dental option will not have coverage beginning January 2018. Employees enrolling in the Blue Cross dental plan will have an ID card mailed to their home address.

Employees have a choice of two stand-alone dental plans — basic or comprehensive coverage — now provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. The shift to a self-insured plan administered by BCBS this year enables UAB to offer a competitive dental program from a national provider that steadies or reduces costs in 2018 — something the previous insurer, MetLife, was unable to provide, said Mike Boyd, director of UAB Benefits.

What to choose and whether to choose it depends entirely upon your needs. Dental care can be as simple as semi-annual visits for cleaning and X-rays. Or you may need more costly care, such as oral surgery, dentures or orthodontia. 

Information about benefit options are being provided during the next several weeks to better enable you to make the best choices for your household.
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Ask yourself these five questions:

How much do I spend on dental products and services each year?

Include regular checkups and any other preventive or remedial work.

How much would my premiums cost?

Final rates will be provided the week of Oct. 16. As with all UAB health care coverage, premiums are paid with pre-tax dollars through payroll deduction.

What does the plan actually cover?

UAB employees will not experience any change in dental benefit coverage from previous years.  BCBS’s dental benefit plans provide specific benefits and negotiated discounts for providers in and outside the network. Those include services such as regular oral exams, cleanings and fillings in the basic plan to more extensive ones such as bridges/crowns, dentures and orthodontia in the comprehensive plan. Among its Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) dental providers, fees are typically 10 to 35 percent below average fees of dentists in your area.

More plan detail is available in the Open Enrollment Toolkit.

Is there a provider I like who accepts this dental plan?

Blue Cross dental plans are accepted nationwide, which means you can go to the dentist of your choice. The fee may be slightly higher for a non-network provider, but it is likely your dentist is a preferred provider, Boyd said. “When we examined the most recent claims by covered UAB employees, 96 percent of the claims dollars paid to the top 250 dentists already were in the BCBS network.”

A full listing of network providers, which includes UAB School of Dentistry faculty, is online at AlabamaBlue.com.  Detailed instructions are available in the Open Enrollment Toolkit.

How do I get the most out of dental insurance?

Use it. But equally important, preventing oral health problems before they start is one of the best ways to avoid more expensive procedures and keep dental costs down.