News + Issues

4 ways the ACA will (and will not) impact dentistry

It is 2014 and the inaugural year of the Affordable Care Act implementation. Curious if dentistry has etched (primed and bonded) its way into ACA? I can tell you, it has. The watchword in regards to our field is “prevention”—detailed in the 21 oral health provisions of ACA. Tied closely with prevention, we may see pediatric dentistry and Medicaid bearing the brunt of the dental changes. Although detailed, the bill is surprisingly digestible. However, if you’ve avoided the daunting task of reading the ACA, you may have a few questions. Let me decode those for you here:

  1. Is it true that all pediatric patients are required to carry some form of dental coverage? Not completely. The essential health benefits (EHB) are required to include dental benefits for those under 19. However, parents are not required to purchase dental plans under a new ruling. It is projected that by 2018 an estimated 8.7 million children will have gained dental coverage. Keep in mind that there may be more changes to this ruling in the future.
  2. Medicaid is expanding its coverage to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line, is my state expanding coverage? It depends on your state. Twenty-five states (plus the District of Columbia) have chosen to expand Medicaid coverage. Check out this map to see your state’s most recent decision:  Where the States Stand on Medicaid Expansion.
  3. The ACA is projected to increase Medicaid dental visits by 10.4 million visits per year by 2018, will there be a subsequent increase in reimbursement rates for dental procedures? No, there is no increase in dental Medicaid reimbursement rates under the ACA. A “Medicaid Parity” provision is included for family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatric medicine and certain subspecialists. The specific specialties and subspecialties of medicine can expect to see an increase of approximately 73 percent of their reimbursement rates for Medicaid.
  4. Will the Medical Device Tax be implemented in Dentistry? Yes. Dental devices are taxed by the Medical Device Tax. The Medical Device Tax is anticipated to financially support the Affordable Care Act. Some have expressed concern of a “trickle down effect” making its way to the provider and patient as the manufacturers increase prices to offset the tax. ASDA opposes this tax and invites dental students to use Engage to encourage their lawmakers to repeal the tax.

~Courtney Worlinsky, Florida ’14

Courtney Worlinsky

Dr. Courtney Worlinsky completed a Bachelor of Science at University of South Florida Honors College in 2010. She is is a graduate of University of Florida College of Dentistry and currently working in private practice. Courtney previously served as ADPAC Chair for ASDA.

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  1. Katie Sowa says:

    Good work Courtney on this blog post! I think by the number of likes and shares of this on Facebook, this is clearly a topic plenty of us want to know about. I think you did a great job breaking it down and answering those important questions. I know random friends always ask me how this will affect my future career.

  2. Thank you for the break and I hope this blog you posted more people will read and understand. You did a fantastic job Courtney!

  3. We absolutely agree with Katie’s comment. This is indeed a great blog post! This topic is certainly being tossed around right now and it is great to have an article that clearly outlines the law. Again, great job on the article.

  4. Very clear and precise breakdown Courtney. Thank you for the blog and I hope more people do read this and understand the break down.

  5. Thank you for the great article Courtney. This is good information that has not received the news coverage it deserves in the dental community.

  6. This is great information, but remember too that the news media only is going to give what people want to hear and what will give the news station high ratings. This obviously will not bring high ratings. If anything it will be a blurb!

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