Low Rates of Pediatric Dental Coverage for Families Purchasing Marketplace Insurance Plans

Published in: Journal of Public Health Dentistry, Volume 79, Issue 4, pages 275–278 (Fall 2019). doi: 10.1111/jphd.12332

Posted on RAND.org on February 12, 2021

by Ashley M. Kranz, Andrew W. Dick

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Pediatric dental care is an essential health benefit that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most private health plans to cover. Insurance marketplaces have flexibility in how pediatric dental coverage is offered, with states requiring purchase of dental coverage or embedding dental coverage in all medical plans. It is unknown how these different offerings may affect uptake of coverage.


We analyzed the 2014–2015 National Health Interview Survey to determine rates of private dental coverage for children obtaining private medical insurance from all state marketplaces (weighted N = 12,380).


We found low rates of dental coverage for children in states where purchase of dental coverage was required (9%) and in states where all marketplace medical plans had embedded dental coverage (24%).


Few families obtaining private medical insurance on the marketplaces report having pediatric dental coverage, suggesting that the ACA essential health benefit policy may not be having its intended effect.

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