Tag Archives: benefits

Dental health advocates fear loss of coverage under GOP plan

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Thanks to progress credited to the Affordable Care Act, only about 11 percent of Americans lack health insurance. Yet approximately a third – more than 100 million – remain dentally uninsured, according to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP).

Dental coverage was never a major focus of the ACA. Still, some headway has been made in getting oral health benefits to more Americans since its passage. Continue reading

Study indicates better health savings account ‘literacy’ needed

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Source: 19th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care. © Towers Watson 2014.

Source: 19th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care. © Towers Watson 2014.

For the purpose of this blog post, let’s leave aside the decade-plus ideological fight about whether health savings accounts (HSAs) are a good or bad idea.

Let’s just look at what happens to people who have them, at least according to this recent article by Michael Fletcher, a national economics correspondent for The Washington Post. His argument is that people could save money on health care – if they knew how to use their HSAs. Continue reading

How are patients dealing with rising costs of dental coverage?

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJ

Dental benefits are on many people’s minds these days, as stories from across the country testify.

In Georgia, Rockdale County employees are facing an increase in their premiums, Alice Queen of The Rockdale Citizen writes. Premiums are also rising  in Anoka County, Minn., Peter Bodley reports for The Anoka County Union Herald. In spite of the expense, these jurisdictions acknowledge the importance of providing dental benefits.

Research shows that without dental coverage, people get less care and suffer more.

Yet the expense of benefits and the complexity of obtaining them continue to present barriers to many people, and the Affordable Care Act did not completely address these problems.

Continue reading

Employers are tweaking benefits to control costs

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

shrinking-costsA new report from Milliman, the actuarial firm, shows employers’ health care costs rose only 5.4 percent since last year. The report also showed how employers are changing their employee benefit plans to control costs.

Here are a few highlights from the 2014 Milliman Medical Index (MMI) report:

  • The 5.4 percent rate of growth from last year to this year was the lowest annual change since Milliman produced its first MMI in 2002 and is down from 6.3 percent last year. The 5.4 percent is still higher than the rate of growth in the consumer price index (CPI). Continue reading

Despite ‘essential’ designation, dental benefits lacking under ACA

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

State and federal policymakers should take steps to make dental benefits less costly and more widely available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) according to a panel of experts convened by the nonprofit National Academy for State Health Policy.

While oral health advocates were heartened to see pediatric dental benefits included among the health reform law’s essential health benefits (EHB), the task of making them available on state marketplaces and getting consumers to buy them has proven to be complicated.

Dental benefits have traditionally been sold separately from other types of health insurance, and the “ACA and subsequent federal guidance treat pediatric dental benefits differently from the other EHB categories, creating unique challenges in implementing the vision of a guaranteed pediatric dental benefit,” concludes the experts’ report, released today. Continue reading