They say for those gruelling 2 years, Army is your life and your rifle is your wife, but they forgot to mention that the Big men in Green will take care of almost ALL your physical health care needs, that includes your dental health. After all, every soldier with a bad toothache is not fighting fit!
During those 2 years serving the country, there are some benefits that, I’m guessing, majority of the NSF are not aware of are:
- Free basic dental treatment:
NSF can request to go to any SAF dental centre their unit covers (e.g. Kranji Camp, Nee Soon Camp) for basic treatment. That is of course you’ve got time to wait, as appointments must be booked much in advanced; but it’s something NSF have lots of - Time.
- $70 free dental “voucher” per year!
Another thing that if too many NSF knew about might actually blow the Military budget in 2009 is that alongside the 2 years, they are given $70 that can be claimed for dental treatment done outside. Hey if someone from my S1 side told me about it, it’d be $140 richer when I came out. You can claim half of the dental fees up to a max of $70; It works like this:
Say your bill is $140 x 50% = you can claim $70 back.
Or if you go for 2 visits to the dentist 1st at $100 x 50% = can claim $50 and 2nd at $60 x 50% = 30. Due to annual cap of $70: $70-50 = $20 (claim the remainder)
- Free wisdom tooth surgery
If you visit the Medical Centre for a wisdom teeth check, they would probably refer you to an Army Dental Centre where the Dental Officer (DO) who checks your condition to diagnose if you’ve got impacted wisdom teeth. If so, you can either have him do the surgery or he’ll refer you to a government linked hospital. In some cases, he might even ask you which hospital you’d prefer:
Government linked hospitals are:
- NDC (National Dental Centre)
- AH (Alexandra Hospital)
- Referral by polyclinic or dental polyclinic to NDC or AH
During registration, remember to waive the magical green 11b trump card at the staff and your surgical bills would magically disappear. Some paid for their medication and admin fees while others didn’t have to pay anything at all. Some that went to AH had to pay for their extractions of the upper tooth, around $30, while others didn’t have to pay a single cent. Though this is still a mystery to me, I hope you readers can shed some light on this matter.
Now Imagine, you’re out of National Service, you get a referral from a polyclinic to NDC to removed all 4 wisdom teeth under General Anaesthsia (sleep), that’ll set you back around $2200 - $1800 or around $1000 under local anesthesia.
- Off and MC due to medical conditions
For example, if your dental officer refers you to NDC, you’d get:
1. ½ day off for the dental appointment
2. MC 1 - 2 days if you extract upper wisdom tooth=1-2days and MC 5-7days if you take out the lower wisdom tooth. I don’t condone but I do know of people who space it out due to the “fear” and “ability to eat with one side” reasons. Giving you almost 2 weeks of MC. One of the best times to use this is just before you ORD, that is of course you’ve complete ALL your outstanding work.
Too good to be true? What’s the catch?
You’ll need to seek permission from your superiors to give you off to actually see a dental officer and also seek approval if you are doing the operation outside as you can be charged for malingering if you suddenly have a bad set of toothaches caused specifically by your 4 wisdom teeth especially nearing your outfield training.
Other than that, remember to bring your green card when you visit the hospitals as that is the only ticket to enjoy all the benefits that MINDEF has to offer the hardworking and resilient soldier…
“Training to be soldiers, to fight for our land….”
*UPDATE* 7 March 2009
Recently, I’ve been hearing on Power 98 (98.0 FM, a SAF owned radio station) a certain “advertisement” about taking care of your teeth. Though the entire script sounds quite overtly dramatic, it helps bring across the point that ‘Prevention is better than treatment’. I’m glad that the SAF is promoting better dental awareness rather than leaving it in CAMOUFLAGE.