Without data, ACA impact too soon to call

By: Colin Reusch

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a focal point in a recent article on the problem of access to dental care in Georgia. Published by both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Kaiser Health News, the article noted that while hundreds of thousands of Georgians gained health insurance coverage through the federally-facilitated marketplace during the most recent open enrollment period, it’s unclear how many have gained dental coverage.

"This is insufficient information if we are to make any claims about how many individuals gained dental coverage as a result of the ACA."

CDHP has previously discussed the fact that available enrollment data do not provide a complete picture of dental enrollment in the new health insurance marketplaces. Unfortunately, this remains the case nationwide. The summary enrollment reports provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services simply indicate how many people have enrolled in health plans and stand-alone dental plans. Yet this is insufficient information if we are to make any claims about how many individuals gained dental coverage as a result of the ACA

For example, we know that more than half a million individuals in Georgia enrolled in marketplace health insurance plans between November 2014 and March 2015. And while we don’t yet have state-specific numbers on stand-alone dental plan enrollment for the most recent enrollment period, we know that nearly 85,000 Georgians enrolled in a separate dental plan during the first open enrollment period in 2014.

Unfortunately, the available data do not provide information on how many of those individuals were children. Furthermore, we have little information and zero federal data on the number of individuals in Georgia or in any other marketplace who enrolled in a health plan that includes dental coverage.

The Affordable Care Act is an enormous opportunity for expanding dental coverage, especially for children. But without adequate data, we cannot make any definitive statements about whether it has fulfilled this opportunity.

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Did you know?

44% }
of U.S. children will have at least one cavity by kindergarten.
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