The Affordable Care Act, more often referred to as "Obamacare," was one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever passed to affect the American health system. Unfortunately, this law did not do much to expand access to dental coverage. Traditionally, dental insurance has been sold separately from other health insurance, and the ACA did little to change this situation.
Consumers need to know about the ACA lack of dental care when they go shopping for health insurance, experts say. They should realize that the insurance policies they buy on the health exchanges will most likely not provide any dental coverage. Nor does the law provide any subsidies or other financial assistance for reducing the cost of dental insurance.
The Affordable Care Act created a list of essential health benefits that must be covered by health insurance policies. While pediatric dental care was included on this list, adult dental care was not. This is unfortunate, since adults are often in need of just as much dental care as children, if not more.
When you are shopping for medical insurance, therefore, you will still need to look for separate dental benefits. Do not make the mistake of believing that a health insurance policy that you buy must also cover dental care. While there are health insurance policies that do have embedded dental benefits, these are the exception rather than the rule.
One of the major provisions of the ACA was to provide tax credits to offset some of the cost of health insurance. These credits are available to consumers who purchase health insurance on the exchanges that were created by the law. However, it is important to understand that these credits are only applicable to health insurance policies and cannot be used for dental insurance.
When you are shopping for dental insurance, it is therefore important to do so separately. You also need to remember that the deductible and maximums for your health insurance policy are separate from those for any dental insurance you may buy. Take this into consideration when you are calculating how much you may have to pay out of your own pocket during the year.
The ACA lack of dental care is one of the major weaknesses of the law, though this reflects a general weakness in the American health system as a whole. A better job of integrating dental care with the rest of the health care system should therefore be a top priority for policymakers.