How will the Obama Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare affect your family? This is a question that many of us are asking. We do know that ObamaCare will affect each and every one of us in one way or another. It already has.
One question many of us are asking is: What changes will we see in the Affordable Care Act in regards to dental insurance benefits?
What is ObamaCare?
ObamaCare’s main objective is to extend health insurance coverage to over 30 million of the country’s uninsured. ObamaCare is setup to go into effect in 2014. However, October 1, 2013 is when most Americans can sign up for this new insurance coverage. Signing up would involve either applying online or by calling the health insurance exchange office in your state. Some states will have their own health insurance exchange, while other states may leave that task to the federal government to handle.
Health Insurance Exchange
What is the Health Insurance Exchange? The best way to describe the Health Insurance Exchange is as a “one-stop shop” for health insurance. Meaning, first you will need to find out if you qualify for any of the federal programs available, tax credits for private insurance plans or if you qualify for other health programs such as Medicaid.
The state operated web site will ask personal information such as income, age, family size, and Zip code. This information will determine what plans are available to you. Each plan is set up on an individualized basis from the information that you provided.
The health insurance plans offered will have to follow all guidelines set by federal and state laws. Some of these guidelines include: Coverage for maternity care and prescription drug coverage. Other guidelines state that no patient will be turned down for pre-existing conditions. This new change will be a great benefit for many.
Having such a system in place where health insurance companies are competing for new customers on the Health Insurance Exchange will help lower costs. Especially after subsidies are applied to the new health insurance coverage, a large percentage of people should find their premiums to be lower.
Is Dental Insurance included in the Affordable Care Act?
The Health Care Reform Act has a very strong emphasis on medical benefits and does not include dental coverage for adults. Young children from lower income families will have added dental benefits. However, many families will not receive benefits or assistance for dental coverage.
Back in March 2010, a new law was put in place that offered dependent coverage for children available until the child reached the age of 26. This has allowed many young adults to have medical and dental coverage for an extended time. In the past most dependents only had coverage past the age of 18 if they could prove they were a full time student. Even with full-time student status, the dependent may only have coverage up to age 23 on a standard plan.
Why ObamaCare Should include Dental Coverage
Shouldn’t dental care be considered a part of your overall health? It is unfortunate that Medical and Dental benefits are not combined as one coverage for all individuals. The benefit of combining coverage would allow all Americans that have insurance to have access to dental care as a benefit as well.
It has been proven that periodontal gum disease and tooth decay have been linked to serious medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. These are just a few of the potential medical issues that can occur from a lack of dental care.
If more people had the knowledge of how detrimental it is to not go to the dentist, one can only wonder if our society could be healthier overall. For those of us that do understand the importance, educating those around us to the best of our ability is possibly the only thing we can do to help.
With that said, regular dental check-ups should be taken seriously. By going to the dentist on a regular basis the dentist and dental hygienist will help identify any dental issues to be concerned with. Also, following through with the recommendations of brushing two to three times a day and flossing on a regular basis will keep bacteria under control and keep your overall health in check.
ObamaCare Dental Insurance Alternatives
With medical insurance rates on the rise, some employers are having to cut back on other benefits to cover the cost of group health insurance. Dental insurance is usually one of the first benefits cut. What other options are available if you or your family does not have dental insurance but find it important to continue with regular dental check ups? Below we discuss other dental insurance alternatives available to help you stay healthy without breaking your budget.
Health Savings Account (HSA)
What is a health savings account? A health savings account is a way of setting money aside to help pay for qualified medical expenses. The contributions placed in the health savings account are not subject to federal income tax, giving the contributor additional money to go toward health care needs. The Federal Government sets maximum contributions allowed for each year, therefore year to year the maximum contribution could change. Health savings accounts can accumulate year after year unlike the Flexible spending account (FSA).
In combination with a Discount Dental plan, a Health savings account could help you lower the cost of dental care.
Flexible spending Account (FSA)
What is a flexible spending account? A flexible spending account is very similar to the health savings account as written above. It is a way of setting money aside to help pay for qualified health expenses tax free.
One difference is ALL money set aside each year will need to be used. Unused money is lost at the end of the plan year and donated back to the plan administrator. In many situations, unused money helps cover the plan administrators fees. So use it or lose it.
Individual Dental Insurance Plans and Financing
What would it take for you to stay healthy? If no other options are available, keep in mind that there are many individual dental insurance plans and low interest financing solutions. Below you will find more information on options available to you in your state including:
- Discount Dental Plans
- Dental Health Maintenance Organizations
- Individual dental plans such as: Delta Dental, Aetna, Metlife, Cigna, Premera
- CareCredit and low interest or no interest credit cards
We encourage you to take the time to research all dental insurance options available. ObamaCare sounds like it could help many, but is it the best insurance product available for you?
Research the Health insurance exchange that will be available in your state as part of the ObamaCare system and then compare with products available from other avenues. Consider your dental care financing alternatives, especially when it comes to dental insurance plans. For many of us, dental coverage will not be included in the ObamaCare package and we will have to purchase a plan separately.