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Dental Insurer Goes After Oral Bacteria

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United Concordia is trying to improve the overall physical health of dental plan members by covering extra services for some members.

United Concordia, Harrisburg, Pa., a unit of Highmark Inc., Pittsburgh, says its new Smile for Health program will pay for an extra dental cleaning for pregnant women, in response to studies indicating that gum disease might increase the risk that women will give birth too early or give birth to babies who are too thin.

The program also will cover extra diagnostic and periodontal services to help dentists identify and treat conditions that may cause or aggravate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory disease.

United Concordia already is building the new benefits into its standard benefits package for new fully insured preferred provider organization plans, and it will starting adding the benefits to existing plans for customers that renew on or after July 1, the company says.