Groups Want Kids’ Dental Care Included in Regular Exchange Plans
Children's advocacy groups want Covered California to include pediatric dental care as a primary benefit in health plans offered through the state insurance exchange next year, the Sacramento Bee reports (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 7/10).
Covered California primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
Supporters hope that the exchange will function similarly to websites like Amazon and Expedia so that users will be able to choose among various health plans through an easily navigable online store.
The exchange is expected to open for registration in October, and an estimated five million people will purchase plans through the exchange in 2014.
Details of Dental Policies
Last month, Covered California selected six insurers to offer pediatric dental care plans through the exchange.
Insurers that will offer pediatric dental care plans through Covered California are:
- Anthem Blue Cross;
- Blue Shield of California;
- Delta Dental;
- Health Net;
- Liberty Dental; and
- Premier Access Dental.
All of the pediatric dental policies -- except those offered by Health Net -- will be sold as stand-alone products, with premiums ranging from $9 to $44 per month.
Criticisms of Separate Dental Policies in Exchange
In a letter to the exchange board earlier this month, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) said that not including pediatric dental coverage as an essential benefit in exchange plans could increase consumers' costs (California Healthline, 7/1).
Kathleen Hamilton of the Children's Partnership -- a coalition of advocacy groups -- said that not including pediatric dental coverage in regular health plans also could result in less dental care for children who need it most.
She said, "The consequences of not getting dental care for kids run the gamut from missed school days and inadequate diets ... to secondary infections and social malaise," adding, "It's chronic, it's serious and it's unfair."
Response to Criticisms
However, the California Dental Association says that selling separate pediatric dental care plans through the exchange "offers the least disruption for families purchasing coverage for their children in the exchange and will allow parents to maintain their existing relationship with their dentist."
Assembly member Dan Logue (R-Marysville) said that older individuals should not have to help subsidize pediatric dental care. He said, "If we continue to ask people to pay for health care for everybody, I think you're going to see the system collapse."
Dana Howard -- Covered California spokesperson -- said that the exchange cannot require insurers to include pediatric dental coverage in other policies unless the Legislature passes a mandate. In addition, he said that accepting some exchange policies that include pediatric dental coverage and other policies that do not would eliminate uniformity and make it more difficult for consumers to compare plans (Sacramento Bee, 7/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.