If you missed enrolling your children in one of the Covered California pediatric dental plans, you’re not alone. The stand alone children’s dental plans are one of the best kept secrets of the Covered California enrollment website. While I think I know how to get the selection to pop-up, it is as stupid and mysterious as the whole stand alone program to begin with.
Covered California pediatric dental plans have a cavity
I may not be the whitest tooth in the smile, but I like to think I can cut through the gristle to get to the meat. However, trying to discover the correct combination of key strokes to get the children’s dental plans to show up in the Covered California enrollment application has been dang tough. No where in the application does the program ask you to specifically select a dental plan. It does ask if you want to find a dentist and this seems to be the key to unlocking the mystery.
Braces can’t straighten out this mess
In retrospect, the only time I have noticed the “Find A Dentist” option is when there have been children under 19 in the household on the application. But if you ignore that option, the user or applicant is never asked to make a dental selection during the rest of the enrollment process. The buttons to advance in the process always say, “Choose Health Plan”.
Its time to extract the pediatric dental plans
Covered California told me that if a family had submitted an application for health insurance with out selecting a dental plan they would have to withdraw the application and start over. I had completed the entire process for one family and new the dental plan had to lurking behind a link some place. Since on December 16th all the phone lines either to the agent side or consumer side had melted down and weren’t being answered I decided to experiment.
The designer needs some mental floss
Since the only option remotely resembling a dental plan was choosing a dentist, I chose a dentist for Timmy Jones that was close to his house. Initially this did nothing as enrollment section only gave me the choice to select a health plan. I resigned myself to only enrolling the family in health and begging their forgiveness for not finding the pediatric dental plans. But after I selected the health and some how navigated back to the selection page, I was now given the option to select a pediatric dental plan.
Is this numb or dumb?
So it seems the only way to be able to add pediatric dental is to first select a dentist, whether you have one or not. I am using the agent side of the CalHEERS enrollment system and perhaps the consumer side is better or different. But it looks pretty much the same as the individual side where a family creates an account. The program never makes you select a doctor before allowing you to select a health plan so whose dumb idea was it to predicate a dental plan selection upon choosing a dentist?
No one gets a crown for this dumb decision
The pediatric dental plan option is the train wreck of Covered California. They got it wrong from the beginning to the end. That is if you can find the end selection of the dental plan. The worst part is that Covered California seemed to implode to the political pressure exerted by wealthy dental and vision plan carriers. Pediatric dental is supposed to be an essential health benefit of all ACA plans. Like coverage for maternity, children’s dental should be part of the plan whether the adult, or male in the case of maternity, can use the coverage or not.
These plans are like partials, get them out
Notice that of the five companies offering pediatric dental, three of them aren’t even health plans: Delta Dental, Liberty Dental and Premier Access. These are primarily carriers that offer dental plans to group health plans. But they aren’t attached to a health plan. While some of the health plans like Kaiser can work with a Delta Dental to offer pediatric dental, all of these plans could be cut out of the new individual dental market if pediatric dental had to be embedded in the health plan.
Drilling on our wallets without Novocain
The only way to get a slice of the market was to convince Covered California through political pressure (See VSP demands stand alone vision plans) to separate pediatric dental from health plan. This was stupid and only serves to enhance the profits of these companies at the expense and frustration of the consumer. Also note that Covered California loves to trumpet health plan enrollment, but they haven’t said a word about how many people have enrolled in the stand alone pediatric dental plans.
Brace yourself: no waiting period for orthodontics
Blue Shield informed me that family plans with children that have not chosen a pediatric dental plan will have their least expensive plan added to it. In addition, the premium for the dental plan will be waived when it is attached to an adult member. A family dental plan won’t necessarily satisfy the ACA requirements. The new pediatric dental plans are pretty good. One of the nice benefits is there is no waiting period for major services like orthodontics.
Failed experiment with wooden stand alone dentures
Covered California is looking at returning to the concept of embedded pediatric dental in 2015 like they should have had in the first place. If you can find it after selecting a dentist, they are solid plans that should work well for children and keep their teeth healthy. All I can think is that Covered California had their wisdom teeth pulled too early and it’s causing the rest of us pain.
Children dental, Adult premiums
Blue Shield has confirmed that pediatric dental will be attached to all members of the household but those individuals over 18 years old will have the charge waived.
Anthem Blue Cross is saying that they will charge all members for pediatric dental regardless of their ages because they view it as one of the essential health benefits that must be included in all ACA health plans.
Twitter with Covered California
When the phone lines have melted, at least I got a reply to my tweet to Covered California through Twitter. Although, I don’t think that bird still understands how the dental plans work.