Sunday, October 27, 2013

KHN: I Don’t Have Children, So Why Do I Have To Buy Pediatric Dental Insurance?

Kaiser Health News fielded the following reader question, "I Don't Have Children, So Why Do I Have To Buy Pediatric Dental Insurance?"

Here's the question in full:
Q. My husband is self-employed and currently has an individual plan. I recently received a letter that said that he must purchase pediatric dental insurance, and if he doesn't provide proof that he has it they will automatically enroll him in a plan. We don't have children, so why would we have to have pediatric dental insurance?
Their answer begins:
A. Under the health care law, starting in January new individual and small-group health plans must cover 10 so-called essential health benefits. The list of required benefits was developed following a process that solicited input from consumer groups and members of the public, employers, states, insurers, and medical and policy experts. The final list reflects a core package of benefits that it was determined everyone should have access to, even though most people may not use every single benefit. It includes hospitalization and prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, emergency care and doctor visits, as well as pediatric services, including vision and dental services for children.  
KHN also notes that "people are not required to buy separate pediatric dental coverage if they buy a plan on the state health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, unless their state specifically requires it."

So perhaps (paradoxically), someone can avoid this requirement by purchasing within the government exchange.

However, the broader problem of mandatory "essential health benefits" still applies.  Why should single men have to purchase maternity benefits?  Why should a teetotaller purchase substance abuse treatment benefits they don't need and will never use?

(Note: The problem of mandatory insurance benefits preceded ObamaCare, mostly enforced at the state level.  But ObamaCare partially federalizes this problem and expands this.)