ACA’s ‘Spillover’ Effect: Dental Coverage Rate Increasing for Young Adults Whose Parents Receive Health Insurance through Employers
July 21, 2014
Washington, D.C. — According to a new report published in Medical Care, some young adults are enjoying extended dental coverage under the health care policies of their parents, whose employers are voluntarily expanding dental coverage in conjunction with expanded medical coverage. Although the Affordable Care Act allows parents to keep their children on their medical plans up to age 26, there is no similar requirement for dental coverage.
Analyzing two years of post-reform data, the report’s authors found that the ACA’s expanded dependent coverage provision increased access to dental care for young adults ages 19-25 by 6.9 percentage points. Given that the pre-reform coverage rate for this group was 38 percent, this is a significant increase. Utilization of dental services had also increased, by 3.3 percentage points. Finally, the study showed that the ACA policy led to a 2.0 percentage point decrease in the likelihood of this age group experiencing financial barriers to dental care.
Authors Marko Vujicic, PhD; Cassandra Yarbrough, MPP; and Kamyar Nasseh, PhD, examined the impact of the ACA policy on three outcomes: dental benefits coverage, dental care utilization, and financial barriers to dental care. All three authors are researchers with the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute. Dr. Vujicic heads the institute.
The ACA medical coverage expansion’s effect on dental coverage could slow a trend in recent years that has seen fewer young adults seeking and receiving routine dental care.
ADA President Charles Norman, D.D.S. praised the report.
“Given that the ACA fell far short of what it should have done for adult dental coverage, this at least is encouraging news,” he said.
“The fact remains that this segment of the population is just that — only a segment,” Dr. Norman said. “Millions of Americans continue to face barriers to dental care, which is why the ADA created Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement designed to ensure that everyone, including the most vulnerable among us, have access to the best quality of dental care America’s dentists can provide.”
Medical Care is a journal of the American Public Health Association.
Editor’s Note: Reporters are invited to follow the ADA on Twitter@AmerDentalAssn
About the ADA
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 159,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website MouthHealthy.org