11:11 AM

Window Closing to Sign-up for Insurance through Marketplaces

The deadline to sign up for insurance through the online marketplaces, created by the Affordable Care Act, is only a few weeks away. People who have not yet purchased an insurance plan have until March 31 to do so.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 4 million people had signed up for a plan through the federal and state-based marketplaces at the end of February, and the number of uninsured individuals continues to fall.
After March 31, each individual who does not have health insurance will have to pay a penalty of $95, or 1 percent of their yearly household income (if that is higher). The amount of the fine will increase each year. Bear in mind that for families, each uninsured person will be assessed the penalty. So for a family of three – two parents and one adult child living at home, the amount can add up. More on that here: [http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/03/12/deadline-health-insurance]
As you may remember, the ACA included pediatric dental care as one the 10 essential health benefits so all children under the age of 19 will have access to dental insurance. Although pediatric dental is not a requirement for those shopping through the insurance Marketplaces, many Marketplaces have made dental plans that cover children and adults available for purchase. It’s important to take the extra step to purchase a dental plan so that you and your family are covered. Dental disease is the single most common chronic childhood illness in the US, yet it is almost 100 percent preventable with regular dental care.
It is equally as important that adults are getting the proper oral care as well, since oral health is directly linked to your overall health. The Surgeon General’s report on oral health in America reminds us that oral health means more than sound teeth; oral health is integral to overall health. In fact, employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental disease or dental visits.
Some state insurance Marketplaces have acknowledged the importance of dental coverage by making dental plans available to anyone, not just those shopping for medical coverage. Unfortunately, the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) has not taken this important step. If you live in a state using the FFM, you must first purchase a medical plan before being allowed to shop for a dental plan. This unnecessary barrier to dental coverage can and should be removed so that all Americans can access critical oral health benefits.
Prevention is key when it comes to oral health. Visiting your dentist every year is one of the most important factors in maintaining good oral health. Without dental insurance, however, preventive checkups can be costly and those without dental coverage are 2.5 times less likely to visit a dentist than those who are covered.
Take charge of your health this month and make sure you sign up for coverage – medical and dental – before March 31.