The 26th Alaska State Legislature, 2009 - 2010||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 309
Dental Care Insurance
“An Act prohibiting health care insurers that provide dental care coverage from setting fees that a dentist may charge under a preferred provider contract for dental services not covered under the insurer's policy, and relating to preferred provider contracts between insurers and dentists.”
Posted: January 20, 2010
Status: (H) FIN : 2010-03-29
HB 309 prohibits insurance companies from setting fee limits on noncovered procedures and also prevents them from setting age limitations for covered services.
A national trend has developed where dental managed care insurance plans are setting caps on dentist's fees for services that are not covered by the insurance plan. Dental managed care plans offer a service providing consumers with dental care at reduced rates. The insurance company sets a fee limit for a service and the consumer knows upfront how much will be covered and how much he or she will have to pay out of pocket. The problem arises when an insurance carrier tries to set fee limits on services that are not covered. Insurance companies have begun setting fee limits for certain noncovered services, forcing dentists to reevaluate their decision to participate in the insurance plan thus decreasing the number of dentists participating in the managed care plan. This leaves consumers with fewer dental care options, which usually ends up costing the consumer financially as well as in quality of care.
A second, more recent trend in dental managed care plans is minimum age restrictions. Before benefits are allowed, some insurance companies require that a child be at least four years old. This presents a huge problem in young children obtaining necessary dental care. Dental cavities in very young children continue to be a problem in Alaska and arbitrarily setting minimum age requirements will handicap efforts to restore dental health to this vulnerable population. Tooth decay is highly preventable through early and sustained home care and regular professional preventive services. In May 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement urging dental exams for very young children. The policy recommends that infants receive an oral health assessment from a health care professional by six months and be referred to a dental health professional by one year. This important statement recognizes that oral health problems can begin long before a child reaches the age of three.
HB 309 goes a long way towards preventing the above mentioned problems and will ensure that Alaskans continue to receive the dental care that they need. I strongly urge your support of HB 309.