By Laird Harrison
More people may get dental care in Calfornia when the Affordable Care Act is implemented. (heraldpost/Flickr)
If you know anything about the Affordable Care Act — otherwise known as Obamacare — you know that it will require everyone to get medical coverage by January 1, 2014.
But did you know that the act could also require millions of families to buy dental benefits for their children?
The dental mandate, if you want to call it that, is indirect and incomplete. Parents who are determined to avoid it can find loopholes. And much depends on regulations that state and federal authorities are still hashing out.
But preliminary estimates show that some five million children nationwide and as many as 1.5 million Californians could gain extensive new dental benefits.
Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act says, all medical plans sold to small groups (100 people or fewer) or individuals must include a set of “essential benefits,” and these benefits must include “pediatric services, including oral and vision care.”
In California, the benefits will be pretty extensive. The state has decided to base them on its Healthy Families dental program. Continue reading
New report says one in four dentists accept state’s Denti-Cal insurance; older reports say closer to two-thirds
By Emily Bazar, CHCF Center for Health Reporting
I’ve spent many months reporting on dental care for poor California children, looking into what kind of access they have to treatment.
(About half of kids in the Medi-Cal dental program see a dentist annually, although figures vary wildly by county.)
But I haven’t focused as much on the dentists who participate in the program, called Denti-Cal.
A new report by health care consultant Barbara Aved does just that. Based on her research, Aved concludes that 25 percent of California’s general dentists participate in the program.
Why not more? Here are some of Aved’s primary conclusions, based in part on a survey of dentists in five counties that she says reflect California as a whole. Out of about 2,000 general and pediatric dentists invited to participate, 322 responded.
- Of dentists who do not participate, 97 percent cited the state’s low reimbursement rates as the No. 1 reason. California’s rates, Aved said, are among the lowest in the nation.
“Unlike physician practices, dental practices are in large part solo or two-person practices,” she said. “It’s really like a small business. Economically, it just doesn’t make sense to do business where you’re not going to be fully reimbursed.” Continue reading