In a new report from the ADA’s Health Policy Institute, researchers found that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expanded dependent coverage provision increased dental insurance coverage for young adults.
The report, published in Medical Care, set out to "assess the effect of the Affordable Care Act’s dependent coverage policy on private dental benefits coverage, utilization and financial barriers to dental care."
The ACA requires health plans to allow parents to keep their children on their medical plans up to age 26, but there is no similar requirement for dental plan coverage.
The study conducted was designed to determine if the ACA would have an indirect “spillover” effect increasing dental coverage despite the fact that the law does not require dental plans to maintain coverage up to age 26. Specifically, there was an interest in determining if employers would voluntarily expand dental coverage in conjunction with medical coverage.
Analyzing two years of post-ACA data, the study found that private dental benefits coverage among adults aged 19–25 increased by 5.6 percentage points in 2011 and 6.9 percentage points in 2012 compared with adults aged 26–34. Dental care utilization among adults aged 19–25 increased by 2.8 percentage points in 2011 and 3.3 percentage points in 2012 compared with adults aged 26–34. Adults aged 19–25 experienced a 2.1 percentage point decrease in 2011 and a 2.0 percentage point decrease in 2012 in financial barriers to dental care compared with adults aged 26–34.
The study concluded that “the dependent coverage policy was in fact associated with an increase in private dental benefits coverage and dental care utilization, and a decrease in financial barriers to dental care among young adults aged 19–25."
For more information, visit ada.org/en/press-room.