CDA advises Covered California on health care implementation

By Nicette Short, Legislative Affairs Manager, CDA

By now, you all have heard or read the many news reports, press conferences, newspaper articles, Congressional committee hearings, etc. about the difficulties with the federal health care reform website that was created pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide access to the federal online health insurance marketplace in states that decided not to develop their own. Troubles still exist with that site and the folks who live in those states are patiently (or not so patiently as the case may be) waiting for the site to get up and running to accommodate their shopping and purchase. 

While California’s own health insurance marketplace, Covered California (coveredca.com), had similar troubles with its technology in the first few days, it has improved quickly over the course of the last month. More than 30,000 policies have been sold with more than 2.5 million unique visitors to their website. This is still just a drop in the bucket of the number of purchasers that Covered California expects to buy medical and pediatric dental coverage during this open enrollment period (October 1 – March 31).  Reports from Covered California’s executive director, Peter Lee, are that many of the enrollers in coverage so far are individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who have been prohibited from purchasing coverage in the past. 

But the implementation of the ACA here in California is far from smooth sailing.  Dental plans have raised concerns with how the pediatric dental essential health benefit is being presented and sold in Covered California.  In particular, they are pointing out that the structure of the online system currently makes it difficult for families to find and purchase the pediatric dental benefit and that Covered California staff do not always sufficiently understand the unique aspects of dental coverage to provide the appropriate assistance families need to make informed choices regarding their dental coverage options. 

CDA is working with Covered California staff to identify additional training that needs to be provided to the enrollment specialists to help them better support families in accessing the dental benefits that are available to them.  In addition, CDA is providing feedback to Covered California on the short-term, and perhaps longer-term, fixes that need to be made to the website to ensure that families who want to buy the dental coverage through the portal can do so efficiently.

CDA remains actively engaged in all the ACA implementation details and is a resource to members interested in finding out more about the new law and how it may impact dentists and dentistry.  For more information, please contact CDA’s Manager of Legislative Affairs Nicette Short at nicette.short@cda.org or 916.554.4970.