Volume 90, Issue 74

Wednesday, February 05, 1997



Examining the pros and cons of the dental plan

By Kevin Gale
Gazette Staff

The upcoming referendum on the University Students' Council dental plan could be a tooth-and-nail affair as both sides drill their point of view into students.

Brad Johnston, 'No' side co-ordinator, said the dental plan is not worthwhile for students because students only get covered up to a maximum of $500 yearly for the $125 paid for the plan.

However, Ben Thornton, joint co-ordinator of the 'Yes' side, said it covers two yearly visits and still leaves room for surgery costs such as wisdom teeth extraction, common amongst 18-24-year-olds. "We're asking students to ask themselves 'Do I want to spend $125 and save close to that much on dental dental care and not have to worry about where the money will come from?'"

Johnston agreed the plan was good for maintenance, however, he said $500 would not cover much in the way of getting wisdom teeth pulled.

Timing is another reason students should not support the dental plan, Johnston said. "Students are not sure about tuition next year. An extra $125 is an extraneous burden on a student's personal resources," he said.

He added the $355 cost to families on the plan is exclusionary to mature students like himself, many of whom are not affluent to begin with.

Students who cannot afford the plan or are already covered, can opt-out of the plan or opt down to a lower-cost managed dental plan, Thornton said. The $125 plan allows a student to go to any dentist in Canada and the $100 plan would restrict the student to certain dentists in London, Thornton explained.

Johnston said local dentists do not seem to support the idea of managed dental care and students would be better off going to Western's dental clinic as it is subsidized to 40 per cent of regular dental costs.

However, Thornton said without the plan, some students will be forced to sacrifice quality in favour of saving money. "This way they are treated to the best care possible regardless of the price," Thornton said. He added the plan does cover the use of the dental clinic.

Johnston said the plan does not cover emergency dental work or orthodontics, with the former covered under the USC health plan.

"Like any insurance policy, it is best if you don't have to use it but it is nice to know it is there," Thornton said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997