Kids Poorly Served By Maryland Health Exchange Website

Kids are getting shortchanged by Maryland’s new health insurance exchange, according to oral health care advocates. The exchange website doesn’t allow users to properly compare pediatric dental plans, and makes it difficult for families to figure out the benefits their children qualify for.

Even though children 19 and younger are entitled to coverage for a wide range of dental procedures, the website doesn’t make even that fundamental starting point clear. It’s also difficult to understand the differences between plans on the site, according to several experts.

“I think the full plan information should be readily available to consumers, even if they’re just window shopping,” said Colin Reusch, a senior policy analyst for the Children’s Dental Health Project.

Reusch points to botched specifications by the government agencies in charge of the website rollout.

“Unfortunately, the summary of benefits was a form developed at the federal level and did not require plans to report more specific information with pediatric benefits,” he said.

Leigh Cobb, a health policy director for Advocates for Children and Youth, says the Maryland exchange needs to give families more information in a well laid-out format that allows users to compare plans.

‘It should absolutely have the apples-to-apples comparison, as opposed to what you’re seeing on the front end, and that is what people are using at this point,” Cobb said. “It’s very difficult to compare and it is critically important that people are able to compare what is offered plan-to-plan.”

The state’s insurance administration database provides details related to children’s dental coverage, but experts say the information should be available where Maryland residents are looking for it, on the state’s health exchange website.

Of course, finding cheap dental insurance has been difficult in Maryland and many other states for years. Dental costs have been rising well above inflation for the better part of two decades.