By Lisa Aliferis and April Dembosky
It was a big debate last summer. While children’s dental coverage is one of the Affordable Care Act’s 10 essential health benefits, the ACA gives states the flexibility to offer the coverage in a stand alone plan. Covered California first required insurers to include children’s dental, then told them to strip out the benefit, in favor of offering stand alone plans at an additional cost.
Now the data is in. Less than one-third of enrolled children on Covered California through 2013 also has dental coverage. Executive director Peter Lee says the additional cost appears to be on issue. “A lot of folks are low income,” he said. “They’re thinking additional coverage versus food on the table.”
Covered California’s board voted Thursday to make a change. Starting in 2015 all medical plans for children sold through the marketplace will be required to include dental coverage. Continue reading
By Julie Small, KPCC
The state’s health insurance marketplace, Covered California, authorized a set of benefits months ago that included dental care for children, but now the marketplace is telling insurance companies to strip out the dental coverage. People would then have to pay extra for a dental plan for their children.
California’s insurance commissioner Dave Jones warns the move could reduce children’s access to dental care and urged Covered California to include the benefit in plans that will be sold when the marketplace formally opens October 1. The change will also drive up costs for consumers, he says.
In a June 27th letter to the board that runs Covered California, Jones says he talked with insurers that originally submitted bids to sell their products on the state’s marketplace and argues dental care is essential. “A child’s overall health and well-being requires access to dental care to ensure oral health,” he wrote.
Covered California is the state’s new health insurance exchange set up as part of the federal health law. It will open Oct. 1 and will be a place where individuals can shop for health insurance which will go into effect Jan. 1. Covered California’s website still shows pediatric dental services as a covered benefit under its health insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act does not require that health plans include dental coverage for children. Continue reading