Wednesday, June 06, 2012

How Will Dentistry Be Affected By ObamaCare - The Affordable Care Act?

Although this may be a moot discussion, since the conventional wisdom is that the United States Supreme Court will soon rule that ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, here is a discussion of the issue.

Medscape: Assuming it is not struck down by the Supreme Court, what is likely to be the biggest impact of the Affordable Care Act on dentists?

Litch: There will be more children seeking care with coverage they obtained through the new insurance exchanges. Also, more families are now eligible for Medicaid. That may put more strain on a system that does not currently work well for patients and dentists in many states. There are a lot of uncertainties.

For some dentists it may be a minor change, for other dentists it may be a major change, depending on where you're practicing and what coverage your patients have now.

Medscape: How many children will gain coverage through this law?

Litch: Theoretically, under the Affordable Care Act, eventually every child should be covered. According to an analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 18% of American children had no dental insurance coverage in 2006; at that time, there were around 74 million children in the United States. That would come out to about 13 million children without dental insurance at that time.

Medscape: How would the Affordable Care Act achieve coverage for all these children?

Litch: Some may be eligible under Medicaid. Others may qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), an existing federal program that provides funds for dental coverage for children who are from low-income families but don't qualify for Medicaid. Others will receive coverage because employers will be required to offer it or because their families are required to buy it. There will be tax credits for families that can't afford health insurance and are not eligible for Medicaid, on a sliding scale. The Act lists dental coverage for children among the essential benefits that health plans must include to comply with the law.

Medscape: So all health plans will have to include dental coverage for children?

Litch: Not right away. Some of the requirements of the Act don't apply to existing insurance plans. These are grandfathered under the law. It's not clear how many. There will be more federal guidelines after initial experiences in 2014 and 2015.

Read all of the rest.

The impact on dentistry will be minor since fewer private practice dentists accept Medicaid and the states are pretty much bankrupt - along with the federal government.

Covering all children with "free" dental care may be a worthy goal, but somebody has to pay for the care and ObamaCare just moves money around - symbolism over substance.

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