Your Dental Benefits are Increasing in January

The Board is pleased to announce upcoming changes to your benefits. Here’s Alan Macnaughton, Pension and Benefits Committee liaison to the FAUW Board with the details. 

The University Board of Governors has approved dental plan enhancements effective January 1, 2019.

The 2018–21 salary settlement between the University and FAUW provided funds for an approximately 15% increase in the amount the University spends on health and dental plans combined for non-retired faculty members. The negotiations for other employee groups provided for a similar increase. This was a precedent-setting negotiations outcome; we’ve never negotiated an increase in benefits funding before.

Following procedure, the University’s Pension and Benefits Committee was responsible for deciding how to spend the money. The settlement provided only that the funds should be directed to areas with “broad participation.” The Committee decided on dental plan enhancements, and on October 30, the Board of Governors ratified this decision. The new rules apply to anyone covered by the dental plan, not just faculty (UW has the same pension and benefits plan for all employees).

What’s changing

The most important component of our dental plan is the coverage of basic costs—preventative treatments such as regular oral examinations, x-rays, fillings, extractions, root canals, and periodontal scaling. Presently, the plan reimburses 80% of the cost of these expenses as set out in the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) fee guide from two years ago (to a maximum of $2,193 per covered person). With the plan enhancement, coverage will be based on 95% of the ODA’s current fee guide. This is effective for treatments starting in January 2019.

The specific dollar values might vary by dentist, but here’s a sampling of what the increase looks like based on fees in the 2018 guide:

  • Exam/x-rays/scaling — $35 more reimbursed (to $220 of a $232 charge)
  • Hygiene appointment — $24 more reimbursed (to $156 of a $165 charge)
  • Fillings — another $37 in your pocket per filling (to $214 of a $226 charge)

Multiply that by multiple visits and/or all your family members and you get a sense what the increase could mean for you.

These new higher reimbursements happen automatically. This is the great benefit of enhancing dental—the extra money gets paid out without any additional paperwork.

The move from the two-years-old fee guide to the current fee guide also affects major dental work (bridges, crowns and onlays, including some denture expenses) and orthodontic work. Reimbursement for these costs should increase by 4-8%.

Why dental?

Some people would have preferred that the Pension and Benefits Committee spend the money in other ways, such as on vision care. One difficulty with vision care as a choice for the 2018-21 salary settlement is that the money allocated in the settlement would have covered less than half of such costs. In any event, Committee deliberations are about finding an outcome that will command majority support, and in the end, the decision on dental plan increases was unanimous.

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