Federal exchanges attracting 3 to 9 dental carriers each

The level of dental carrier competition could be stronger at some of the new health insurance exchange programs than at others.

Consumers who use either the individual or the group exchange system in Florida, Georgia or Virginia could get to pick from a menu of nine carriers.

Consumers in four other states -- Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware and Iowa -- might only have three dental carrier choices.

Consumers in other states with federal-government-run exchanges could have four to eight dental choices.

Officials at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), an arm of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), have published information supporting those numbers in a new projected dental carrier participation table.

The table shows how many dental carriers have expressed an interest in selling voluntary, consumer-paid dental plans in the "federally facilitated exchanges" and "state partnership exchanges" that CCIIO will help CMS run.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the parent of CMS, to work with state agencies to set up exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

CCIIO (pronounced, "See-sigh-oh) will be helping CMS run "federally facilitated exchanges" or "state partnership exchanges" in 33 states.

The table does not include information about the dental markets at the state-run exchange programs in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Utah and the District of Columbia.

The PPACA "essential health benefits" (EHB) provision is supposed to require exchange health plans to offer a standardized package of services that includes some dental preventive services benefits for children. In a state with an exchange that offers access to at least one stand-alone dental plan, exchange health plans not provide pediatric dental benefits coverage, CCIIO officials said.

CCIIO is publishing information about the number of dental carriers that might compete in various states to help insurers decide whether they have to include the pediatric dental benefits in their benefits packages, officials said.

It seems likely that health plans in the states with federal exchanges will be able to leave out pediatric dental benefits, if they want to do so, officials said.

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