News Column

California Unveils Dental Coverage for Kids

Jun 26 2013 9:00AM

Covered California, the state's insurance exchange, on Tuesday unveiled dental plans it said will provide affordable care for children up to age 19 starting Jan. 1.

The exchange, one of 17 state-run health care marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act, said six companies will offer the dental coverage -- which, unlike medical insurance, is not required under the federal health reform law. The six companies are: Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Delta Dental of California, Health Net, Liberty Dental and Premier Access.

They will offer plans statewide, with only a few exceptions, said Peter V. Lee, the executive director of Covered California. In Orange County, they will sell a mix of dental HMOs and PPOs, with monthly premiums ranging from $10 to $40. Each of the plans will come with two options: a lower premium with higher out-of-pocket spending by the child's family, and a higher premium with lower out-of-pocket costs.

Five of the six companies will let consumers choose whether to buy the dental plans bundled with medical coverage or separately. Health Net will sell dental coverage only combined with one of the medical plans it is offering on the exchange.

Enrollment for the dental coverage begins Oct. 1 and ends March 31, the same as with the medical plans Covered California unveiled earlier this month. Further information is available at coveredca.com or 888-975-1142.

Lee said that Covered California had turned down some dental plans that wanted to be part of the exchange, based on criteria that included cost, quality and access to providers. However, "we put together what we think is a very good portfolio -- good choice and enough choice," he said.

Anne Gonzales, an exchange spokeswoman, said it would be difficult to compare prices of the exchange-sponsored plans with coverage being sold in the broader market. The Covered California plans offer new benefits, including a $1,000 cap on annual out-of-pocket spending by families and no yearly maximum on what the insurance companies will pay for treatment.

Covered California projects that 70,000 children will be enrolled in medical plans it offers. However, "we can't project the number of children who might be enrolled specifically in pediatric dental plans because it's not mandatory," Gonzales said.

Contact the writer: 714-796-2440 or bwolfson@ocregister.com

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(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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Source: Copyright Orange County Register (CA) 2013


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