Dental Insurance and the ACA Health Exchanges

It’s difficult to watch the news without hearing something about the recent launch of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges. Commentators on both sides of the fence have been debating for weeks about the success, or lack thereof, of the website available to the American public to shop for individual health insurance.  Regardless of whether you believe the new law is a good one, come February, every man, woman, and child in the United States is going to be required to carry health care coverage.  And while this does not include dental insurance, plans are still available in every state, and with more and more research pointing to the importance of maintaining good oral habits, the hope is that most individuals will not view dental as an option, but instead will purchase a plan alongside the mandated health coverage.  A recent Medscape Medical News article explored the variety of dental plans being sold at the exchanges with the following key points.

There was a vast range of prices for dental health insurance from state to state.  For example, monthly costs for a stand-alone dental plan on the federally run exchanges ranged from $6 per child in Virginia, to $65.75 in South Carolina.  While the ACA includes pediatric dental care as one of the “essential benefits” that must be offered in every state, it does not mandate that individuals purchase it.  Another disparity among state offered dental plans is the number of options available.  In Texas, residents can choose between almost 50 plans offered by 11 different insurers.  Alaskans however have only one plan available statewide.  Traditional dental plans have had to make some adjustments to what has previously been the industry standard.  For example, the ACA requires a minimum level of services that often exceeds those typically covered.  Additionally, the health care reform law prohibits caps on the amount the plan will pay out.  After the data was analyzed, a correlation between the number of competitors and/or the average income level within a state didn’t seem to have an impact on the cost of insurance.  It is still undetermined what costs will look like when plans become available for small businesses through the exchanges.

Individuals who have tried to use the federal health exchange website to enroll in dental insurance have run into the same technical difficulties as those shopping for health plans.  The administration has assured Americans that they are diligently working to overcome any glitches and are confident that insurance will be obtainable by the February 15, 2014 deadline.  When the time comes, will you opt for dental coverage?

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