- January 2008
Questions and suggestions from the staff to management
may be submitted in confidence to the Delphi Coordinator.
They should be submitted in written form, preferably via
interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential.
They must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting
questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures
Manual, section 4-1-2, and on the Delphi
Web site. Staff Notes Monthly publishes questions
and answers of general interest to staff, and the Delphi
Web site has a log of all questions submitted since 1995.
Health care coverage for eyes and
teeth, recycling in cafeteria
Delphi Question #581 (received October 9): I’m
wondering if UCAR can look at our health care policy and
figure out if there’s a way that vision and dental
coverage can be provided in cases of medical emergencies.
I have insurance through Cigna. I am going to need to have
a laser eye procedure to enable me to continue functioning
fully at work and undertaking such tasks as driving in the
dark, because I am so nearsighted that even with glasses
I can no longer see very well. Cigna is not covering any
of this because of a policy exclusion for the procedure (PRK).
I also have a colleague who is facing an estimated $10,000
to $15,000 of dental work that’s needed to prevent
several of his teeth from falling out. Even though this procedure
is a medical necessity, Cigna is covering only a small fraction
($3,000 at most).
I understand why Cigna provides limited or no coverage for
elective procedures, like LASIK to improve vision or orthodontics
to straighten teeth. But our eyes and our teeth are important
parts of our bodies, and I don’t understand why even
medically essential procedures would not be fully covered.
Is it possible for UCAR to take a look at this and perhaps
renegotiate our contract with Cigna?
Response (received October 30): Most medical
plans, including Cigna, cover injuries and diseases of the
eyes and injury to the teeth due to an accident. Medical
plans do not generally cover the eyes and teeth for “ongoing
maintenance.” Dental plans are common, but the benefit
is limited to keep the plans affordable. Vision plans are
less common, as the expense is generally predictable and
less suitable to insurance, which covers unexpected losses.
I am not aware of individual plans for vision and dental
coverage that would cover the examples you mention, and even
if they did, they would be unaffordable for most people.
Your specific question about vision coverage asked about
PRK. PRK, like LASIK, is a form of surgery designed to correct
refractive errors and is considered an elective procedure,
not a medical necessity. We have checked and the UCAR plan
is consistent with other plans in not covering refractive
surgery to improve vision.
The UCAR dental plan has a maximum benefit comparable to
dental plans offered by other employers. We reviewed the
maximum this past year and determined it is reasonable, and
there are no plans to raise the maximum for 2008.
Several years ago, UCAR raised the maximum under the medical
spending account to $10,000 specifically to allow employees
to pay for more vision and dental expenses on a pretax basis.
(Most employer plans have maximums around $5,000.) While
the contributions to the plan come from the employee, the
pretax advantage is pretty significant. Employees can also
take advantage of a provision that allows for reimbursement
even if the account does not have enough contributions to
cover the expense. Through this provision, you can schedule
PRK early in the calendar year, receive full reimbursement
from your medical spending account and pay off the cost with
pretax payroll deductions during the rest of the year.
Human Resources Director
Delphi Question #582 (received November 28): I
just had an Asian stir-fry in the NCAR cafeteria. This was
served in a large black plastic bowl. There was no marking
on the bowl to indicate that it was recyclable. This does
not seem to be in keeping with UCAR’s goals of minimal
waste. Could such entrees be served in reusable bowls in
the future, or at least recyclable bowls?
Response (received November 30):UCAR is
committed to making our operations “green,” which
includes minimal waste. Event Services, including the cafeterias,
began replacing disposable products with recyclable products
months ago. In addition to being environmentally responsible,
we must also be financially responsible. So as not to be
wasteful, and recognizing that throwing out existing supplies
before use is not environmentally sound, Event Services is
using up the last of its disposable inventory.
Subsequently, there will be times when cafeteria patrons
still encounter disposable products. One additional problem
is that some disposable products still lack recyclable replacements.
Event Services is working closely with manufacturers to integrate
recyclable products as soon as they come into the marketplace,
but there may be instances where disposable products are
used. Thank you for your question.
—Nancy Post van der Burg
Questions and suggestions from the staff to management
may be submitted in confidence to the Delphi Coordinator
Marc Genty. They should be submitted in written form, preferably
via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential.
They must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions
are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section
4-1-2, and on the Delphi
Web site. Staff
Notes Monthly publishes questions and answers of general
interest to staff, and the Delphi Web site has a log of all
questions submitted since 1995