What does a President Trump mean for dental?
Will President Trump affect your dental care?
After a historic election in our country, the votes have been counted and the unexpected result is a Trump presidency which has taken many by surprise. We previously took a brief look at what a Clinton or Trump presidency would mean for dental care, but now that we have a President-elect Trump, let’s explore potential scenarios about what changes could be in store for the dental industry.
Republican control of the White House and Congress is a big deal
It’s been said that Republicans have not had this much power since the 1920’s. They will now control the White House and have majorities in the house and senate. Although they do not have a super majority in the Senate of 60, they still have a simple majority and the ability to set the agenda in Washington and will be able to pass most of the legislation that they pursue. So what does this mean for dental?
Dental Insurance is loosely connected to a potential repeal of Obamacare
In the early days since the election, members of President-elect Trump’s team have indicated that one of their first priorities is to repeal and replace Obamacare. The repeal part is easy enough to understand, but the replacement piece leaves many questions. There have been many rumors and potential replacement plans for healthcare that have been floated, but at this point, none have risen to the top, and the Trump team has been vague on details.
However, there are some broad principles for changes that we could anticipate regarding any replacement plan. Most likely any future plans will move healthcare and other related services such as dental care to a more free market approach with increased choice and competition, possibly across state lines. This generally means less regulation of what plans must look like and more freedom for companies to design plans with different coverage options at different price points.
As we’ve explained before, the Affordable Care Act or ACA, mandated plans include a list of essential benefits that also included coverage for pediatric dental for dependent children. This was a new feature for many medical plans but could possibly change in the future if plans are able to remove pediatric dental as a required benefit.
This may lead to plans that give members more options and choices for benefits such as pediatric dental or full dental coverage that they could add to their medical plan. This is how many medical plans worked prior to healthcare reform. So we’ll have to wait and see what types of replacement plans Congress looks to pass and how it may affect dental coverage.
Will Congress look to make any changes to Dental Insurance plans?
As discussed earlier, dental insurance has been loosely associated with health insurance in the past and with Obamacare. But in large part, dental insurance has remained separate from health insurance and the requirements of health reform. As the law currently stands, there is no mandate or requirement for adults to carry dental insurance. The mandate has been specifically for health insurance which does not include routine dental care for adults. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Medicare does not currently include benefits or coverage for routine dental care for seniors.
With this trend of prior legislation and programs for medical care that does not include dental coverage, it’s unlikely that a Republican controlled government will create any new programs or requirements for dental insurance. This could have been a possibility under a democratic administration, but it’s very unlikely under a Trump presidency. A Trump administration will most likely pursue approaches that feature less regulation and that encourage more free market competition to help lower costs for those who want to purchase coverage.
Could Tax Reform have an affect on Dental Insurance?
One potential legislative priority in Washington that could have ramifications for dental is tax reform. Tax reform has long been a discussed topic in Washington but may now have legs with a Republican controlled government. Although it could be tied to a replacement plan for Obamacare, there have been discussions of giving tax credits for the premiums of families that purchase insurance plans similar to the deductions that employer based plans receive. If Congress enacts some form of tax deduction or credit for medical premiums, then they could also include this for dental insurance premiums as well.
If this were to happen, it would be a great opportunity for those who need dental coverage. By giving a tax benefit for purchasing dental insurance, it would give members another incentive to get the care and coverage they need. Although this is speculation as to what may happen in the future, this is one possible change that could benefit those seeking coverage for dental services.
Dental Insurance is most likely a long term solution to dental care
One fact that remains is the need for dental care. As dental services are vital to the overall health and well being of individuals, most will need some type of financing mechanism in order to receive dental treatments. Dental insurance plans remain one of the most popular methods for accessing dentists and receiving assistance and cost sharing for costly dental treatments.
Also, as new treatments such as dental implants become main stream, members will need some form of coverage or assistance to receive these higher cost services that most cannot afford by paying out of pocket.
The good news is that a wide variety of dental plans are currently available and we could possibly see newer types of plans that are developed in the future as markets are opened for greater freedom and competition for dental care.
Regardless of who is in Washington you can smile
So regardless of who you may have voted for in the election, one thing you can take heart in is the continued access to affordable dental care and dental insurance. There may be changes in health reform and potential benefits of tax reform, but in the end dental care will continue to be a vital service that can ensure you keep a smile on your face.
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