Showing posts with label Getting a Grip on Dental Expenses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Getting a Grip on Dental Expenses. Show all posts

Monday, November 18, 2013

WSJ - Getting a Grip on Dental Expenses

LOL, ya gotta love it.  There’s a “grip” on it alright.  A damn tight one!





Getting a Grip on Dental Expenses

Health Law Should Help Children and Some Low-Income Adults

By Kristen Gerencher

Nov. 16, 2013 8:05 p.m. ET

Oral health typically isn't covered by traditional health insurance, but kids and low-income adults soon may have more opportunity to take care of their teeth. As many as 8.7 million children are expected to gain dental insurance through the Affordable Care Act by 2018, according to the American Dental Association, though some experts expect a more modest addition of about 5 million children.

The news for adults is mixed. Medicaid, the federal and state health-insurance program for low-income people, will expand in some states under the health-reform law, providing more adults with dental coverage. While 29 states offer adult Medicaid recipients limited or comprehensive dental coverage, 21 states offer bare-bones, emergency-only coverage—or none at all, according to Oral Health America, a national nonprofit based in Chicago.

Medicare, the federal insurer for the disabled and for adults 65 or older, doesn't cover routine dental care, so many seniors still face hefty out-of-pocket costs. Two-thirds of 407 seniors earning less than $35,000 a year said they couldn't afford a procedure such as a crown, implant or bridge, according to a recent survey by Oral Health America and Harris Interactive.

Here are a few tips for managing dental costs, whether you're shopping for insurance or discounts:

Starting Jan. 1, more kids may find coverage through Medicaid, as 25 states and the District of Columbia make plans to expand the program, and through state or federal health-insurance exchanges. But the options can be confusing. Only two states, Washington and Nevada, require families who shop for health coverage on the exchanges to buy pediatric dental insurance as well, says Evelyn Ireland, executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans in Dallas.

On the exchanges, you need to weigh whether to buy a separate "stand-alone" dental plan or one that is part of a health plan. In some markets, because of the way deductibles are structured and because premiums could exceed the cost of expected care, it may make more financial sense to forgo dental coverage altogether.

If you choose to get pediatric dental coverage through a medical plan, check to see how the deductible is applied, Ms. Ireland says. "We've seen them all over the map," she says. The health plan may require you to pay its deductible before the dental plan will cover routine care such as well-child cleanings, sealants and X-rays. Because dental insurance has traditionally paid the full cost of preventative care, "it will be a big shock if [consumers] go under a medical plan and end up having to pay all of it out of pocket instead of none of it out of pocket."