The Health Care Bill, Dentistry & CAM

The health insurance legislation passed last March has raised a lot of questions for a lot of people: how it will work, what will be covered, and so on. Consumer Reports has been doing a good job of periodically providing answers on their Health Blog, including one that touched on issues highly relevant to both our clients and non-client readers of this blog.

Will dental services and any integrative/complementary medical treatments be covered?


Unfortunately, dental care is not covered for adults (a gross oversight in our opinion). However, it is considered an “essential benefit” for kids “that has to be offered by all health plans.”

The picture is brighter when it comes to CAM – “Complementary and Alternative – care. Osteopathic treatment will be covered, and a good number of other modalities may be covered, depending on the licensure rules in your state. Here’s how Nancy Metcalf at the CR Health Blog explains it:

Your access to these practitioners, often grouped under the umbrella term of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), may be a bit easier under the new health reform law. That is because, beginning in 2014 when the exchanges start up, if a health plan covers a service that your state licenses a CAM practitioner to provide – for instance, pain relief, nutritional counseling, or help for your aching back – the plan has to let the CAM practitioner provide it. “It doesn’t mean that CAM providers are going to be paid the same as an M.D.,” cautions Deborah Senn, former Washington State insurance commissioner. Like everyone else, doctors included, CAM practitioners will have to negotiate their fees with each health plan and abide by the plan’s other rules if they want to participate. And not every state licenses every type of CAM practitioner.

For instance, while California and 18 other states have some form of licensure for naturopathic physicians (NDs), the rest do not. So if you live in a state without licensure for the kind of treatment you seek, you’ll still be paying out of pocket.

And, of course, it remains to be seen how many CAM practitioners participate in the program.

Still, this is a bit of progress for natural medicine, and we’re glad to see it. Now if we can just get more people to understand that dental health is decidedly linked to bodily health and thus just as important…


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