Webcast: Will families buy kids’ dental benefits on new exchanges?


AHCJ webcast


Recorded webcast

Speakers' presentations (PDFs):

Tip sheet: Pediatric dental benefits on the health insurance exchanges
How is your state coping with the challenges of offering pediatric dental benefits? And will the benefits result in getting more kids the dental care they need? Oral health topic leader Mary Otto explains the issues and why states could be making some controversial decisions in implementing this part of the law.

How I did it: Covering pediatric dental benefits
As Mary Otto wrote in a recent blog post, Chad Terhune of the Los Angeles Times has done a good job of writing about the complexities of fitting pediatric dental benefits into California’s exchange. He shares his insights into the unfolding story and offers advice to AHCJ members who might want to see how this issue is playing out in their own states.


Approximately 8.7 million children could gain extensive dental coverage through the ACA by 2018. For children, the expansion will be almost evenly split among Medicaid (3.2 million), health insurance exchanges or marketplaces (3 million) and employer sponsored insurance (2.5 million). The inclusion of pediatric dental benefits in the health care reform law was hailed as a breakthrough by advocates working to get dental services better integrated into the nation's larger health care system.

Now states are tackling the challenges of offering dental benefits on their exchanges. What services are they offering? Are they affordable? Are families buying them and will they know how to use them?

As for Medicaid expansions, how are qualifying kids who need coverage going to get it?

Do states have strategies for guiding new families to care in places where there is a short supply of dentists?

We’ll get early assessments of whether health care reform is actually getting dental care to more kids, through private insurance and Medicaid expansions. Panelists will include Colin Reusch of the Childrens Dental Health Project, who will offer a national look, as well as Evelyn Ireland, executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans. Mary Foley, executive director of the Medicaid CHIP State Dental Association, will address how Medicaid expansions may be working in some states to get dental benefits to kids under the ACA.

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Mary E. Foley, R.D.H., M.P.H., has served as executive director of the Medicaid CHIP State Dental Association since 2009. The association works to develop and promote evidence-based oral health best practices and policies. Previously, Foley was the dean of the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She has worked as a project director at the Children's Dental Health Project and as director of the Office of Oral Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Colin Reusch is a policy analyst at the Children's Dental Health Project where he tracks implementation of health care reform, researches and drafts issue briefs and policy documents, and provides guidance and direction in identifying and pursuing policy initiatives as they relate to improving oral health. CDHP is a national nonprofit organization that works to achieve equity in children's oral health. Prior to joining CDHP, Reusch worked on young alumni programs at Eastern Kentucky University and local government policy issues at the Kentucky League of Cities.

Evelyn F. Ireland is executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans, which promotes and advances the dental benefits industry to improve consumer access to affordable, quality dental care. Ireland has more than 40 years of experience in government and insurance. She worked for 10 years as an insurance regulator and for the Texas legislature as well as Congress.


Mary Otto is AHCJ's oral health core topic leader, keeping AHCJ members updated on the latest resources on dental care and policy. Otto, an independent journalist, got interested in covering oral health in 2007, writing about the death of a child who had suffered complications from an untreated dental infection. At the time, she was working at The Washington Post. She left that job in 2008 but has continued to write about oral health, as a freelance writer for the, and other publications.

Mary E. Foley

Colin Reusch

Evelyn F. Ireland

Mary Otto