The following is a guest post and any opinion/statement are solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Worldental.org
The March 31st deadline to sign up for a health care plan through the federal exchange quickly approaches for the uninsured, but many people still have questions about the new health care law and what its plans will do. Here we will address some of those concerns when it comes to the impact Obamacare will have on the dental industry, pediatric dental care and adult dental care.
The Dental Industry
Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has caused much skepticism among dentists. Many dentists fear the ACA will trigger an oral health crisis in our nation responding to their belief that dental care was not addressed as seriously as it should have been in the new law.
While most people see dental care as a way to improve the appearance and state of their teeth, it goes beyond just that; dental care affects your overall health as well. Knowing this, it is not surprising that the dental industry has responded with such skepticism. Having once believed the ACA would make dental care more affordable, many are finding that a few key components have been left out of the law, as we’ll discuss in the following sections.
For the dental industry, corporately, a medical device excise tax has been issued with this bill, which has been the cause of some concern because it imposes taxes on the manufacturer and importer for medical devices. This tax will increase national dental care costs by an estimated $160 million annually
The American Dental Association (ADA) has made it clear that they will support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that do not align with their own policy. This includes this medical device excise tax of 2.3 percent that went into effect January 1st of this year. While this tax is aimed at the manufacturers, dentists will most likely see tax-related cost increases.
Fortunately, although not necessarily for the dental industry, there were some exemptions to this medical device excise tax, including: eyeglasses, contact lenses and hearing aids.
Pediatric Dental Care
Pediatric dental care has been labeled an Essential Health Benefit, which means it must be made available to children who are under 18 years of age, but you aren’t required to purchase it unless your state requires it.
On the exchange, pediatric dental care is available through a qualified health plan (QHP), a stand-alone dental plan purchased along with a QHP or through a bundled health plan that includes medical and dental policies.
These types of plans on the exchange typically cover basic preventive and restorative care. This would include regular teeth cleanings, fillings and x-rays. Most plans do not cover orthodontic care, however, unless children have trouble chewing or speaking. For more specifics on what these dental plans will cover, find out your state’s stance in this particular area as each state will be able to decide:
- How much everyone will have to pay out of pocket for dental services
- How many times a year a dental plan will pay for a certain dental service like teeth cleaning
- What oral health conditions are most problematic for your child that they would need braces
- Who the in-network providers will be
Finally, your dental deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for pediatric dental care will differ depending on the plan you choose and the state you live in. In states where the federal government is controlling the exchange, for stand-alone dental plans the out-of-pocket limit will be $700 per child or $1,400 for family.
Adult Dental Care
Adult dental care is not an essential health benefit so the majority of companies on the exchange aren’t offering it, and there will be no pressure put on adults to get this coverage.
With few insurers offering dental coverage on the exchange and the high cost of medical coverage, there will be fewer adults who will choose dental coverage. There may even be companies, when the time comes, who drop dental coverage for their employees to cope with the high cost of health care. For some, this has already started.
However, don’t underestimate the importance of finding good dental coverage. As mentioned before, your oral health affects your overall health, so it is important. Even if you don’t find anything on the exchange, there are alternatives to consider—like a discount dental plan. These affordable dental plans can be a great help to you because they provide you with the affordable dental care you need so you can keep your dental care a priority but also stay within your budget.
Natasha Gayle is the senior writer at 1Dental – a Better Business Bureau-accredited company that sells discount dental plans. We seek to provide affordable dental plans to those who are looking for a more affordable option for their dental care, and provide our customers and the general public with important dental and health tips they can apply to their everyday life at our blog.