At last, grads get dental

After several years of lobbying administrators and evaluating their current health care options, graduate and professional students will have the option of purchasing dental insurance for the first time this coming fall.

Emily Stoops GRD ’13, a student advocate with the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and GPSS President Amanda Machin LAW ’11 met with Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle on Thursday afternoon to discuss their preference for an opt-in insurance plan through the independent Delta Dental insurance network — one of two plans under consideration — that would cover basic care without co-pays and offer 50 percent discounts all dental procedures besides regular cleanings.

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“It was an easy conversation because we were all pretty much in agreement,” Machin said.

Dental care has long been on the GPSS’s wish list, Stoops said, adding that the organization currently administers a Dental Emergency Fund, which paid out a total of almost $2,500 to 30 students in its most recent round. But Stoops said the fund received 106 applications this round from students requesting almost $33,000 to defray the costs of emergency dental procedures. The fund, which draws its money from the GPSS general budget, pays students three times a year. It was launched in February 2009 both to help students cover major dental procedures, as well as to demonstrate student demand for dental insurance.

The new plan differs from the other Delta Dental option, which was brought before administrators by the GPSS in the fall, Stoops said. Administrators had rejected the plan in October because it was deemed too costly for graduate students’ budgets, Stoops said, adding that the new plan’s enrollment fee will be about half the previous plan’s. The old proposal was like any traditional insurance plan, which charges a high annual fee so that a subscriber is essentially pre-paying for care he or she may need throughout the year, Stoops said. Under the current proposal, students will pay less up-front than in a traditional plan but more at the time of emergency care, Stoops said, adding that this model favors those in good dental health.

In October, administrators expressed concern at the high administrative costs associated with the original proposal. The University has never intended to subsidize dental insurance for its graduate and professional students, Machin said, and it has found a way to minimize administrative costs under the new plan. To save money, the University will not finance online enrollment for the plan, Stoops said.

“Yale designed the program to be at a minimum administrative cost to themselves,” she said.

Graduate School Dean Jon Butler was not available for comment after Thursday’s decision to offer the new dental insurance program.

Stoops said the plan has not yet been finalized. Administrators will continue to gather information about the program and negotiate the terms of the plan with Delta Dental, she said, before they formally announce the program at the end of April.

Paul Genecin, the director of University Health Services, said the new dental insurance plan is unrelated to new health care legislation, adding that the dental plan was conceived in response to student demand.

Of six graduate students interviewed before Thursday’s decision, two said they were satisfied with their basic coverage through the Yale Health Plan, but four said they wished the Yale plan offered dental care.

Though Stoops and Machin said they were pleased that the wait for dental insurance was over, Agnieszka Rec GRD ’15 said she did not understand why the Health Plan had not added a dental option of its own all along.

“I think it’s ridiculous that [Yale Health Plan] doesn’t have dental. We all have teeth,” she said before Thursday’s meeting. But later, she said she is glad students and administrators have struck a deal to bring dental care to the graduate and professional schools.

Students will need to enroll for the plan by mail over the summer, she said, and the GPSS will mount an advertising campaign this spring to raise awareness about the new program.

Correction: April 4, 2010

An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the benefits offered under a new dental insurance program for graduate and professional students. Subscribers to the plan will be eligible for a 50 percent discount on all procedures besides regular cleanings, not just emergency procedures. In addition, due to an editing error, the article misstated that Graduate School Dean Jon Butler did not respond to a request Thursday for comment for the article; in fact, Butler replied earlier in the week to a request for comment but was not available after Thursday’s decision to offer the new dental insurance program.


  • faculty and staff

    Wish faculty and staff could get this kind of plan!

  • Andy

    “graduate and professional students will have the option of purchasing dental insurance for the first time this coming fall”

    Is this accurate? I seem to remember having the option to join a dental discount plan when I started graduate school at Yale. Maybe that wasn’t technically an insurance plan.

    In any case, this article is sort light on concrete details about the plan. I’m not going to get my hopes until I see how it will all work.

  • curious

    Isn’t it interesting how the GPSS has had dental on its “wishlist” for years, and yet after a few months of organization, petitions, and actions by GESO around health-care issues including dental coverage, dental miraculously appears?

    Collective action, as ever, is the only power that compels Yale to do the right thing. No offense to the GPSS, but this story misses the crucial reason this happened now.

  • Amanda

    The dental discount plan didn’t last very long and is now (I believe) defunct.

    Its discounts were very minimal, it was not a national plan, and it did not include the coverage of preventive care. This plan covers preventive care and will give a 50% discount on all procedures – and it’s also accepted nationwide.

  • admittedly not a member of GESO

    No offense to GESO, but if there input has been so critical, why have they not been involved in any of the discussions?

    Getting stuff like this done requires a lot of hardwork and negotiation – and actual research. For something that’s such a big change, a couple of years’ work isn’t surprising.

  • YES!!!!!!!

    thank god! the wait is finally over!


  • Grad Student

    So we’ll be able to buy into an unfunded, no-cost-to-Yale “plan” which will only cover 50% of catastrophic (ie unmanageable) costs on top of basic wellness exams that will cost less than our premiums? Nice.

  • ’10

    GESO would probably shout better if they had fewer teeth. GPSS would probably, um ‘service’ the needs of the administration better.

    So basically, this will be a further weakening of GESO. Nicely played, GPSS!

    Okay, so if you are in the plan you a) pay premiums that cover basic cleaning, and b) get a 50% subvention of major surgeries like root canals. What about a ‘normal’ cavity?

    It is silly that Yale hasn’t had dental care available for grad students. My teeth seem fine, but I haven’t been to a dentist since 2005 (when my parent’s insurance stopped covering me. I’ve been at Yale since 2003~!

  • LAW’12

    I need to get four cavities filled–I can struggle to pay out of pocket and do it now, or I can wait until fall, when maybe some of it will be covered. More info please!
    I’m excited to have dental insurance, though I think Yale should subsidize it.

  • BKW

    I find the fact that GESO could possibly claim credit for this to be personally insulting. Those that have ‘been on the in’ know that this has been entirely done via GPSS. This was initially approved last spring without any substantive help from either GSA or GESO. The work done in the last year was entirely just fine tuning of the exact plan to be offered.

    As the person the person most responsible for the enactment of this plan I am indescribably proud. My only regret is that it could not be more comprehensive due to fiscal constraints. This plan is almost identical to the plan that Harvard has been offering for years, which has left us behind the curve.

    Happy flossing!

    Bryan K Woods

  • what is GESO???

    I have been at Yale for three years as a grad student and I have never heard anything about GESO or what it actually is.
    I have, however, received emails from GPSS and GSA. I got a free toothbrush from GPSS this fall, so I knew that it was a big priority for them this year…
    Maybe GSEO should actually reach out to the students it claims to represent.

  • ’12

    Re: 7
    They didn’t even list the price tag on the premiums so how can you possibly know that the premiums cost more than the cleanings. Have you had a cleaning lately? A cleaning alone costs about $100. With x-rays that comes to about $170. So two cleanings a year come to about $270. It sounds like the plan is going to be a lot cheaper than that.

    Re: 8
    I can’t imagine that the 50% discount is really only for emergencies. If it’s like the plan I have through my parents it includes all procedures other than cleanings/x-rays. YDN has been known to get a fact or two wrong.

  • ex staff, student

    To the first poster above, FYI, University Staff DOES have a plan with Delta Dental which is FREE for all preventative and emergency care and which covers about 50% of non-emergency dental issues (including things like implants)…the question was why the staff were treated so much better than the graduate students on this dimension, given that they are already paid more, spend less time with the university on a weekly basis, and many of whom won’t be here as long as us (6+ years).

  • umm

    Well, I hope this plan is such that it makes financial sense for grad students to enroll.

    What I’ve never understood is why undergraduates get dental insurance but not graduate students. Why would Yale Health Plan treat us grad students any different than undergrads?

  • By faculty

    To #13. The faculty plan is not free, it is deducted from the paycheck every month.

  • ’12

    Re #14 – Undergraduates also don’t get dental insurance through Yale. It’s not a key issue for YCC however, because a majority of undergrads are still covered through their parents’ insurance plans. In the past there had been talks that the grad student plan would be made available to undergrads as well, but it’s unclear what the final standing on that will be.

  • law ’99

    Well done Yale, hopefully the plan is robust like Harvard’s where I went for my doctorate.

  • BKW

    Two clarifications:

    1) Yale offers Delta Dental to faculty and staff, but not undergrads. Some staff get dental for free due to their union contracts, while others including faculty have to contribute a portion due to weaker or non-existent contracts.

    2) This plan will be nearly identical to the Harvard plan. Yale solicited their own plan which provided better coverage at a higher price, but opted to adopted the Harvard plan instead. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this, but am supportive of the path they are taking.

    Bryan K Woods

  • visionary

    Optometric coverage would be a good next step. We all have eyes and losing their use has bigger immediate consequences for our studies than losing the use of a tooth.

  • vision

    To #19,
    Procedures requiring a visit to an opthalmologist are covered. This includes most catastrophic problems, such as sudden acute vision loss. Unfortunately it doesn’t include basic lens coverage.

  • Bryan Woods

    Is the man. Thank you for this.
    -A former ycc’er who owes woods much for two days of sunshine