Company proposes dental plan change (updated)

Updated: The company now says the new dental insurance firm it has suggested, Guardian, has agreed not to cap coverage. We’re still looking into the proposal, and the Executive Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday, July 12, to discuss it as well as other business including the impact of our returning colleagues. If you have input to offer on the dental coverage, please pass it along by next week’s meeting.

CLICK HERE for the list of Guardian covered Dentists in the Capital Region.

CLICK HERE for the full list.

The Company made a proposal Wednesday for a different health care provider to oversee dental care.

The dental coverage would be provided by Guardian, rather than Empire Blue Cross which has provided the coverage for more than 20 years. The estimated savings to members would be about $11 a year.

The offer was made to union leaders throughout the company, including Guild President Tim O’Brien and Vice President Lindsay LaFountain.

The insurance brokers from Rowlands & Barranca said that Guardian offers a broader network of dentists. If a dentist is not a member of the network, Guardian would still reimburse the provider directly whereas Blue Shield requires the employee to pay upfront and be reimbursed. The brokers also said Guardian offers a better discount.

O’Brien noted that the documents showed Guardian with an annual maximum of $2,500 whereas Blue Shield sets no limit on dental costs. The company said the cap was $2,500 for each member of a family, not $2,500 for a whole family. But the brokers said they had not yet been able to obtain information on how many, if any, workers would have reached the cap. The brokers said they believed they could get Guardian to drop the cap.

All the union leaders said that information was critical to making any decision, and the brokers said they would obtain and share that data. They also promised to get a list of participating dentists. O’Brien swiftly learned after the meeting his own dentist is not a participant and asked some additional questions as a result.

Guild members are encouraged to talk to their own dentists’ office, ask about whether they accept Guardian and whether they think the coverage and cost to the patient is better or worse than Empire. Please let your Guild leaders know what you think as we continue to review the proposal. The company stressed it was offering it as an optional switch, not one they were seeking to require.

You can find information on Guardian at its website, http://www.guardianlife.com/.

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