PPACA extends dental coverage to more young peopleNews added by Benefits Pro on July 24, 2014

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By Dan Cook

Almost by chance, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has led to more young people enjoying dental insurance.

This was among the nuggets mined from research conducted by three members of the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute. They examined two years of health coverage data focusing on dental benefits coverage, dental care utilization, and financial barriers to dental care.

What they found was that more employers are now offering extended family benefits with dental insurance that include family members up to age 26. During the research period, access to dental care by this young consumer group (ages 19-26) increased nearly 7 percent.

“Given that the pre-reform coverage rate for this group was 38 percent, this is a significant increase,” the researchers said. “Utilization of dental services had also increased by 3.3 percentage points. [And] the ACA policy led to a 2 percentage point decrease in the likelihood of this age group experiencing financial barriers to dental care.”

The researchers were somewhat surprised by this increase in coverage, because offering dental insurance to family members is an option for employers.

“Although the Affordable Care Act allows parents to keep their children on their medical plans up to age 26, there is no similar requirement for dental coverage,” the researchers wrote.

However, the association said the law still fell short of its expectations that dental care would receive more emphasis in the health care reform effort.

“Given that [PPACA] fell far short of what it should have done for adult dental coverage, this at least is encouraging news,” said ADA President Charles Norman. “The fact remains that this segment of the population is just that — only a segment. Millions of Americans continue to face barriers to dental care.”

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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