The bad news: They're still not available to the people who need them the most.
When open enrollment begins again on
"The average person who needs dental care who's out there, an adult, is not going to get helped by that. They're not," said Dr.
This is the fourth year of medical plans being sold on state exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, pediatric dental plans were available alongside medical plans in
For coverage starting in 2017, two dental insurance carriers have been certified to sell seven family dental plans on HealthPlanFinder in
Delta Dental is offering two plans, while
On the medical side, four carriers are selling 29 plans in
The subsidies available to mitigate the cost of medical plans do not apply to dental plans.
"I think anybody would want dental insurance if they can afford it," said
At the Mission's clinic, Buehler doesn't accept anyone with insurance, including
A comprehensive exam at the Mission costs
Buehler doesn't believe the new dental offerings in the exchange will make any dent in the need here.
"The people I worry about most are the seniors," he said.
He'd like to see more seniors and low-income adults come through the Mission, which sees about 400 dental patients a month and could easily accommodate more. Looking at the big picture, the family-only dental offerings underscore the idea that adult dental is only covered as an afterthought, said
In the Affordable Care Act, "Pediatric dental is defined as an essential health benefit; it's not an essential benefit for adults," Killpack said. "It's just kind of there -- this issue that we've collectively decided not to fund or include as part of the safety net, like we do for children."
The new plans offered on the exchange will be a boost for the people who can access them, he said.
"Patients are more likely to go to a dentist if they have dental benefits, so in that sense, it's a good thing, and it's good that families can now purchase one plan for themselves, versus just having one for their children," he said. "I think it could make a difference for some families."
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