Now that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is finally getting underway in a real way, consumers may be wondering if their dental care will be covered under this new system.
Unfortunately for many people who will be buying health insurance under the ACA, dental care will not be included in the basket of benefits insurance companies will be required to provide. Many essential services will be covered, including hospitalization, preventive care, wellness services and psychological services. However, dental care has been left off the list.
“The ACA really falls short on adult coverage in dentistry,” said Robert Faiella, the American Dental Association president. “The dental side is not really addressed.”
Faiella continues to explain that leaving dental care out of the ACA was a huge oversight.
“We’re concerned about it because the law does not draw attention to the fact that oral health is very critically involved in overall health.”
Nadia Kiderman, DDS, who practices in New York City, agrees that oral health is crucial to one’s overall health.
“Everyone wants good health,” Kiderman says in her blog. “Dental health is an important part of a person’s life.”
Obamacare does provide some dental services for children, but it has not added coverage mandates for adults. One problem is that the ACA-approved pediatric dental coverage could raise the cost to adults by almost 57 percent, from $35 to $55, so they can insure their children. According to a spokesman for the Association of Dental Plans, this cost hike could cause adults to drop their own dental coverage. Executive Director of the NADP Evelyn Ireland says that although millions of children might receive dental coverage under the ACA, many more adults might lose their coverage “for a net loss of coverage in the overall population.”
Working feverishly to meet its self-imposed deadline to get the Affordable Care Act’s website interface user-friendly (ie usable), the Obama administration once again extended the deadline. Realizing that having the federal Obamacare portal in ship-shape by November 30 was just not in the cards, the agency working on the website announced an 11 hour closure on Saturday, for extended maintenance. Now the update to announce an up-and-running portal is scheduled to take place on Sunday, instead of the previously announced Saturday.
After almost a month of frustration for users trying to access and/or use the ACA portal, which went on-line on October 1st, tech surge czar Jeff Zients pledged that the website, “will work smoothly for the vast majority of users” by November’s conclusion. Other Obama officials have reiterated this date several times since.
Zients announced that by the time all the latest bells and whistles will have been added the website’s capacity should double to about 50,000 users at a time. They are hoping for about 800,000 visitors to the site each day. These are the numbers which were hoped for when the site was first launched on October 1st.
The site is not expected to be perfect, however. Administration officials are warning users that there still could be long lines to get on the site, since during the first few days after the original launch as many as 250,000 tried to get on the site at once. If such numbers overwhelm the site again, people will be put on an online queue, receiving an email when Healthcare.gov can accept for visitors.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius cautioned people to expect long lines and no access at peak times. She asked people to shop for their healthcare plans during off-peak times, like early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends.
“The product is popular, so avoid the lines and shop HealthCare.gov during off-peak hours,” Sebelius wrote in a blog post.
Notwithstanding the less than ideal beginning for the Affordable Care Act during the past few weeks, Democrats dropped their partisan squabbles and supported a Republican bill which allows health insurers to continue to sell plans through 2014 despite the fact that they were cancelled automatically under the specifics of Obamacare.
Thirty-nine Democrats from the House sided with the Republican proposal, allowing the bill to pass by a wide margin, 261-157. The bill was sponsored by Republican Representative Fred Upton of Michigan. Observers say it was an impressive show of disloyalty to Obama, but Democrats would have defected in even larger numbers if the administration hadn’t promised on Thursday to find an administrative solution to the problem of cancellations.
The White House is threatening to veto the bill stating that the bill “threatens the health security of hard working, middle class families.”
The bill is not expected to get much attention in the Democratic-led Senate. Several Senate Democrats have proposed their own legislation to deal with the problems and bugs in the ACA.