Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IBM Medicare Extend Health - More about Dental Plans

It is turning out to be way more difficult to find solutions for dental insurance than it was for health and prescription drug insurance.  Several people have been looking at various plans.  Here's what they have found out -----
The dental plans offered by Extend Health are just about the worst plans in the marketplace. Even some of the EH agents have told retirees what EH offers stinks! That's not to say other plans in the marketplace are much better. It seems the one AARP offers is the best of the lot but even then - the premiums are high and they will only cover cleanings and simple fillings for the first 6 months you own the policy. So, if a tooth fails you are SOL to have it fixed before June. And it caps at $1500 payout for the year. 12/6/13 - I just saw that EH added two plans offered by MetLife but I don't think these offerings are "offering" much.  It is also very frustrating that we find out what EH is selling by word of mouth or going onto their site.  Once enrolled, who'd  want to go back and keep checking the EH site to see what else is being sold!
Someone just told me about a group plan that is interesting ---- IF your dentist accepts it (mine accepts no plan). You pay Cigna a flat fee for the year (something like $130) to become a member of Cigna's dental insurance group. That entitles you to get the Cigna negotiated dentist rates from a dentist in their network. You pay the dentist whatever the negotiated rate is for a given procedure. For example, if a typical cleaning is $120 but the Cigna rate is $90 that's what you will pay the dentist - again, only if the dentist accepts the plan.
If you want to know more about the Cigna plan go to
There is another website that describes the myriad of dental insurance plans available to individuals but, as I said, none are particularly great ---
I already posted a blog entry about the VA dental plans available if you or your spouse are veterans.  They are the best plans I have seen so far because they are group dental insurance plans. It turns out they are available no matter what your income level as long as you served in the military and enrolled in the VA health system before 2004.  After that time, if you try to enroll the VA will not even let you register  in the VA health system if your income is too high (over approximately $50,000 annually - it depends on your zip code). There is also a dental plan for veterans of foreign wars who were in combat that does not appear to be income based.  However, you must prove you were in combat.
It's a pity that IBM wouldn't even give us the option to buy into the MetLife group plan since they had to know the individual dental plans stink.  I am not surprised - just continue to be disappointed in IBM.
I, personally, will skip buying dental insurance and basically self insure for as long as I can afford to use my existing dentist.


  1. For 2014 I am buying a 'discount' plan not an insurance product. It is the HumanaOne Texas Dental Plan. The network of dentists is good and mine is in it. Most dental insurance products are more buying clubs rather than insurance. The discount plan will be less expensive than a pure self insure model and a lot less expensive than insurance products even with major work every 4 years.

  2. I spoke to METLIFE this morning and was told that if you currently had Kaiser of Aetna advantage that you could keep the METLIFE dental plan

    1. Yes, IBM is basically keeping those people "inside IBM" so for two more years they have their Medicare Advantage plans and are still part of the MetLife Dental group plan.

  3. As far as the veteran dental plans. to register with the VA as I understand it you must provide a FULL financial disclosure with all your assets. I've looked at the plans for METLIFE thru VA very good and costs are reasonable. But not sure if disclosures are worth it.

    1. VA health benefits are means tested. Once your annual income is more than $50k or so then you will pay the maximum for copays if you use VA health services. As such, I believe they do not bother to ask for income verification once you pass the tier 8 threshhold. The MetLife Dental plan being offered is a VA negotiated group plan that is not means tested. It is a pilot program where the VA setup "group dental plans" with Delta Dental and MetLife and are giving veterans the ability to use local dental services instead of coming into the VA facility for services. It's up to the insurance provider if they want to extend the offering to spouses --- MetLife is doing so. The premiums are higher than what vets would pay to have dental work at the VA facility so my guess is lower income people will continue to go directly to the VA center for dental.

    2. Plato
      Thank you for all of your clarifications on the EH packages, you are a real life saver and although we've spent many hours on the phone with EH representatives, it is starting to seem worth it now. We were at least given something to do it these retirement years besides learning an awful lot about the new medical system.

  4. Late information on Dental and Vision Coverage I would like to share. I realize it is late in the game but I just ran on to this the day before Christmas.
    I found a health care brokerage website called It appears that they concentrate on Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Rx plans. However, I found a link into their Dental and Vision plans. I was prepared to self-insure for both dental and vision until I looked at this site and ran the numbers. For a typical Delta Dental Plan for $36.00/mo that I had previously priced, they had an HMO plan from Humana for $13.99/mo. (plan H1215). They also had many Vision plans and one that I am running the numbers on is a plan from VSP Choice Plan for Individuals for $12.50/mo.

    Other Misc. Info:
    I made a list of the message groups, Blogs and a specific website that I have been tracking and posting information on, primarily the IBM/EH fiasco. Some interesting facts.
    IBM Pensions Msg Group has 4412 members
    IBM Retirees Msg Group has 2173 members.
    IBM Retiree Issues Msg Group has 1362 members
    IBM Medicare Options Blogger site has 153 members website has ?? members
    I have learned a lot from each of the 5 sites that I monitor and thank everyone for their participation and contributions. If we could only convey this information to all of the IBM Retirees that aren’t aware that these sites exist, it would be great. I really feel bad for them. Any Ideas?? Are there any other sites for IBMer communications that any of you know about?

    As I perused the new 2014 SPD document I got to the last page and it brought to mind some of the posts that discussed how long HRA or any other benefits would be around. I scanned it in and have included it here. The answer to any of these how long questions is, Who knows?

    IBM reserves the right, at its discretion, to amend, change or terminate any of its benefits plans, programs,
    practices or policies, as the Company requires. Nothing contained in this book shall be construed
    as creating an express or implied obligation on the part of IBM to maintain such benefits plans, programs,
    practices or policies.
    IBM's benefit plans may be amended by written resolution of the Board of Directors or any Committee to
    which the Board has delegated power. The Retirement Plans Committee is authorized to amend any plan
    which is funded through a trust, including the IBM Plan All other benefit plans may be amended by the
    IBM chief human resources officer or other IBM executive by means of a written instrument, such as the
    text of a plan, a summary plan description, a trust agreement, an insurance contract or insurance certificate, an administrative services contract, the administrative documents and procedures for a plan, an
    electronic medium notice, a hard copy bulletin board notice or an announcement letter or written materials that are approved by said chief human resources officer or other IBM executive and maintained with the records of the affected benefit plan.

    Happy New Year
    Roger (Attila)

    Page 232

  5. If you had the IBM CIGNA group dental coverage in 2013,you can enroll in the CIGNA conversion plan as an individual.The premiums are somewhat higher(as a single person, mine went from $21 for the IBM group to $28 for the conversion),and the copays are much higher(from $179 to $440 for a molar root canal),but there is no yearly cap as in all other plans I have seen.You have 90 days to enroll in the conversion after your IBM group coverage ended.Look in your IBM CIGNA group plan book under "conversion".