Jones Wants Exchange Plans To Include Pediatric Dental Coverage
Last week, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) urged the board of Covered California to include pediatric dental care as a primary benefit in health plans offered through the state insurance exchange next year, KPCC's "Represent!" reports (Small, "Represent!," KPCC, 6/28).
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 (California Healthline, 6/26).
In a letter sent to the exchange board on Thursday, Jones wrote that several insurers originally included dental coverage in their bids for regular health plans offered through the exchange. However, the board decided to exclude pediatric dental coverage from the plans and offer them as separate policies, according to Jones.
He said that not including pediatric dental coverage as an essential benefit in exchange plans could increase consumers' costs.
Department of Insurance Deputy Commissioner Janice Rocco said that one insurer participating in the exchange would have sold pediatric dental coverage as part of a larger health plan for $6 per month, but instead is charging $26 for a separate policy.
Covered California Response
Dana Howard -- a spokesperson for Covered California -- said the exchange decided to exclude pediatric dental coverage from health plans to "provide more options for the families ... so they can have a broader choice of the networks or the plans that they wish to have cover their children."
She added that the exchange is following federal regulations, which do not require plans to include pediatric dental coverage.Howard said that the board will consider Jones' request. However, she added, "[B]efore we do all that, you have to look at the reason why people don't buy dental insurance for their children, and we believe we've answered that problem" ("Represent!," KPCC, 6/28). 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.