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HHS exchanges attract more dental insurers

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U.S. dental insurers may be warming up to the public health insurance exchanges managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

HHS reported that 141 issuers have told it that they’re thinking of offering stand-alone dental plans (SADPs) statewide through the HHS-run exchanges in 2016.

A year ago, only 127 issuers had notified HHS of interesting in selling individual SADPs statewide through the HHS-run exchanges in 2015.

See also: HHS posts early exchange dental player count.

The increase was due to an increase in the average number of issuers thinking of participating in each state, not an increase in the number of exchanges managed by HHS. HHS has not added Nevada, Oregon or other states in which HealthCare.gov is handling enrollment for state-based exchange managers to the SADP issuer count list.

For 2015, 16 of the 33 HHS-run individual exchanges in the early SADP issuer count announcement were on track to offer just one or two SADP issuers, and only two were on track to offer six or seven issuers.

For 2016, all 34 exchanges in the early SADP issuer count announcement are on track to offer at least two issuers, and only six are on track to offer just two issuers. Nine of the exchanges are on track to offer six or seven issuers.

The SADP issuer notice process has no direct correlation with major medical issuer interest in public exchange qualified health plan (QHP) slots, but it could be an early indicator of major medical insurers’ views on the exchanges.

Dental insurers have reasons to be less interested in the public exchanges than medical insurers are. In 2014, exchange dental plan enrollment was much lower than QHP enrollment.

Consumers can get only limited help with using Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) subsidies to pay dental coverage premiums, and the SADP issuers are not expecting to get money from the PPACA “three R’s” risk-management programs — the temporary reinsurance, temporary risk corridors and permanent risk-adjustment programs.

Because dental insurers get so much less help from PPACA subsidies, their level of interest in the exchanges may be a good indicator of how insurers think the public exchanges are doing as a commercial product sales channel, with the effects of the PPACA subsidies excluded.

 

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