It goes by many names, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ObamaCare or Marketplace insurance plans. But what is it exactly and can it impact you if you don’t have it, specifically when it comes to dental coverage?
What is the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)?
On March 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama. It set mandates for minimum health insurance by state, which the majority of Americans were required to have by 2014. If you failed to get minimum essential coverage, and did not meet the exemption requirements, you could be penalized for not having health insurance. Heatlthcare.gov or the health insurance Marketplace is a price-comparison site where you can shop for and enroll in a health, dental and vision plans, as well as learn about exemptions and assistance.
Penalty for No Dental Insurance?
All ACA compliant plans must offer all children less than 19 year of age dental coverage. It’s called an “Essential Health Benefit” or a “Required Benefit.” These terms are a bit misleading, though. While it sounds as if dental insurance is required, it’s actually not. It simply means that children’s dental insurance must be available for purchase in your state’s Marketplace. You do not have to purchase it. In fact, you can decline children’s dental insurance without receiving a tax penalty. Adults, however, do not have to even be offered dental insurance.
If you’re thinking, “Great! I’ll cancel my dental coverage then,” proceed with caution. If you signed up for dental insurance as part of your health insurance plan through the Marketplace, meaning it was not a stand-alone offering, you cannot cancel it without penalty.
If you’re wondering if the same rules apply to vision, they do.
Importance of Dental Care
With that said, just because you’re not required to have dental coverage under the Affordable Care Act, doesn’t mean you and your family should go without it. The way that insurance is typically sold, as health, dental and vision, often causes us to focus on “parts” of the body, instead of viewing it as one being that needs to be taken care of.
Should I Buy Dental Insurance?
Good dental health is vital to your overall health. Plus, preventative care can help protect you from having more serious and more expensive dental issues a few years down the road.
Dental insurance can become expensive, especially if you don’t have access to it through an employer. If it’s offered at your place of employment, it’s a good idea to take advantage of it. If you are unemployed, or your employer does not offer it, check out the Marketplace. It offers a variety of stand-alone dental plans that you can enroll in. Plus, you can cancel coverage on a stand-alone plan at any time if you feel the plan you picked isn’t the right fit for you.
However, if dental insurance just doesn’t interest you, another alternative that is worth looking into is a dental savings plan.
Dental Insurance Alternatives
A dental savings plan, also known as a discount dental plan, is an affordable, convenient and flexible alternative to dental insurance. Plus, it offers really competitive discounts on dental procedures that even insurance won’t cover. It’s really the best of both worlds because it allows you to get the dental care you need, without the hefty price tag.
With a dental savings plan, there are no copays or monthly premiums. You simply pay an affordable annual membership rate that gets you access to a network of dental professionals who offer discounted dental care. Since there are over 100,000 participating dentists nationwide, finding one in your area is no problem.
Plus, depending on the discount savings plan you choose, you can get a routine six-month dental checkup and a variety of different types of dental x-rays for free. As mentioned, you’ll also receive discounts between 10% and 60% on restorative dental care, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, implants and oral surgery. And since dental savings plans don’t have an annual maximum like dental insurance does, you don’t have to worry about exorbitant out of pocket costs because you’ll never pay full price. You’ll always receive a discounted rate on dental work performed.
Additional Dental Savings Plan Benefits
As stated earlier, taking care of the “whole” body is important. Like dental, vision insurance isn’t required under ObamaCare, but it’s still important to have. If you decide to sign up for a dental savings plan, you can add a vision care savings plan to it. A vision care savings plan works the same as a dental savings plan. It reduces the cost of eye exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses and treatments.
Save at the Dentist
In closing, while there isn’t an ObamaCare dental insurance penalty, having dental insurance or a dental savings plan is good idea. (And so is a vision care savings plan, for that matter). It can spare you from costly and potentially painful dental issues later on in life.