Calif. exchange frees plans from dental mandate

The California Health Benefit Exchange has persuaded state insurance regulators to eliminate a provision requiring qualified health plans (QHPs) sold through the exchanges to offer pediatric dental benefits.

California is setting up its own state-based Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange program, Covered California. The state's Health Benefit Exchange is trying to get the Covered California system open by October 1.

The state's Office of Administrative Law approved a revised version of the regulations earlier this month, according to a story on

In the revised version, regulators let QHPs leave out pediatric dental benefits as long as insurers are selling standalone dental plans through the exchange.

The healthcare reform law requires all QHPs to cover a basic essential health benefit package that includes pediatric dental benefits. Federal health officials have ruled that QHPs don't have to offer pediatric dental benefits if the exchange offers standalone dental plans.

Because the Covered California QHP solicitation process did not require QHPs to include pediatric dental benefits, none of the QHPs selected for the individual exchange program do, and implementing the requirement in the original version of the emergency regulations would delay Covered California's health plan solicitation process, program officials said.

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