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Covered California, state’s new insurance exchange, announces dental plans for kids

June 25th, 2013 | by Victoria Pelham | Comments

Covered California, the state’s new exchange designed to expand health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, rolled out its new children’s dental plans Tuesday.

The latest in a series of coverage options unveiled ahead of the law’s full implementation on January 1, the agency announced dental plans for kids through six companies chosen through a “competitive bidding” process. They will be offered through: Anthem Dental, Blue Shield of California, Delta Dental of California, Health Net Dental, LIBERTY Dental Plan and Premier Access Dental.

“Dental care is a vital component of overall health, and especially critical for our state’s children,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, in a statement.

He added in a conference call Tuesday that the children’s dental plans will work “hand-in-hand with the broad health insurance benefits to insure hundreds of thousands of children.”

Dental care has been a key issue in the Coachella Valley, with hundreds lining up- often overnight- to get teeth pulled at free clinics in the east valley. In eastern Riverside County, 26.8 percent of children, or about 36,682 kids, are without dental coverage, according to 2010 data from the Health Assessment Resource Center.

The Covered California dental plans will be offered in two payment options—85 percent value (higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket) and 70 percent (lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket). This is different from the agency’s medical insurance plans which are offered at metal levels ranging from bronze to platinum.

Premiums will vary from less than $10 a month for a DHMO plan to about $30 a month for a DPPO, according to the agency.

The pediatric dental options will include nine stand-alone plans through five of the companies and one bundled plan through Health Net Dental, according to its announcement.

Californians will be offered dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs), dental preferred provider organizations (DPPOs) and dental exclusive provider organizations (DEPOs) based on where they live.

Lee said the plans are optional, for children up to the age of 19, and could be embedded with health plans on the exchange. He added that the board is also looking at adding supplemental adult dental coverage next year.

Covered California’s 13 individual health coverage plans were announced in May. Open enrollment will begin in October and continue through March.

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