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MetLife, a provider of dental plan administration for about 20 million people, today announced that it will be updating its impacted dental plans to comply with the requirements of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Starting January 1, 2014, the ACA imposes new requirements on certain health benefits for most small business employers. For these businesses, medical carriers will be required to offer a medical plan consisting of ten essential health benefits (EHB), including pediatric dental and vision coverage for children up to age 19. In order to assist its clients in complying with the ACA, MetLife will be adding pediatric dental benefits that meet these EHB requirements to existing dental benefit plans, in the states where MetLife is targeting on or off marketplace participation. These changes will be effective January 1, 2014 for groups with 50 or fewer employees. MetLife also plans to offer these EHB benefits to small groups in about 20 states via the public marketplaces.
For those target states, businesses that purchase their dental coverage from a standalone carrier will not need to change the way they purchase coverage, as the law also allows for the pediatric dental EHB to be provided by a standalone dental plan.
“Small businesses can address the ACA’s requirements by choosing a fully insured dental plan from a standalone dental carrier,” says Christen White, vice president, Group Dental and Vision at MetLife. “MetLife is committed to helping its clients comply with the ACA by adding the pediatric dental benefit requirements to many of our dental benefit plans.”
Selecting a fully insured dental benefit plan from a standalone dental carrier may also provide tax benefits down the road. If a dental plan is fully insured, it is always considered “standalone” and will not be subject to the excise tax (Cadillac Tax) taking effect in 2018. Self-insured dental plans offered with a medical plan may be subject to the tax.