Tooth decay is children's most common chronic health problem, and the 2010 federal health-care law addresses this problem by requiring insurers to cover pediatric dental services. But some advocates are concerned that the new benefits may not be sufficiently comprehensive or affordable, Michelle Andrews writes for The Washington Post.
She notes that by the time children enter kindergarten, more than a quarter of them have decay in their baby teeth. As they age, the problem gets worse and nearly 68 percent of those age 16 to 19 have decay in their permanent teeth, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Beginning next year, the Affordable Care Act requires individual and small-group health plans cover pediatric dental services, unless a plan has a specific exemption under the law. Those services are already part of the Medicaid benefit package, but most Kentucky dentists don't accept Medicaid.
For the expansion to private insurance, "Coverage requirements will be determined by each state within guidelines set by the federal Department of Health and Human Services," Andrews writes.
Jill Midkiff, chief spokesperson for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said Kentucky is awaiting the publication of the final rule from HHS, which will define essential health benefits for each state and provide further guidance relating to coverage of benefits. Although no specific publication date for this rule has been announced, she said its release is expected within the next several weeks to allow insurers to modify existing health plans to be made available to individuals and small businesses for purchase through health exchanges by Oct. 1. (Read more)