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Insurers' Policies on Coverage for Behavior Management Services and the Impact of the Affordable Care Act

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The impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on dental insurance coverage for behavior management services depends upon the child's source of insurance (Medicaid, CHIP, private commercial) and the policies that govern each such source. This contribution describes historical and projected sources of pediatric dental coverage, catalogues the seven behavior codes used by dentists, compares how often they are billed by pediatric and general dentists, assesses payment policies and practices for behavioral services across coverage sources, and describes how ACA coverage policies may impact each source. Differences between Congressional intent to ensure comprehensive oral health services with meaningful consumer protections for all legal-resident children and regulatory action by the Departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services are explored to explain how regulations fail to meet Congressional intent as of 2014. The ACA may additionally impact pediatric dentistry practice, including dentists' behavior management services, by expanding pediatric dental training and safety net delivery sites and by stimulating the evolution of novel payment and delivery systems designed to move provider incentives away from procedure-based payments and toward health outcome-based payments.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of Dental Medicine and Health Policy & Management, Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork, N.Y., USA; Senior Fellow in Public Policy and President Emeritus, Children's Dental Health Project, Washington, D.C., USA. [email protected]

Publication date: March 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • Pediatric Dentistry is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. It is published bi-monthly and is internationally recognized as the leading journal in the area of pediatric dentistry. The journal promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. This peer-reviewed journal features scientific articles, case reports and abstracts of current pediatric dental research.
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