By Jenifer Dorsey
While the Affordable Care Act may not require a parent’s dental insurance plan benefits extend to dependents age 19 and older, it seems more young adults have dental insurance benefits—and are using them—since the law took effect.
In the two years (2011 and 2012) following the Affordable Care Act’s passage into law, at which point the dependent coverage provision took effect, access to dental care for young adults ages 19 to 25 rose 6.9 percentage points and utilization of dental services increased 3.3 percentage points, according to a new report published in Medical Care, a journal of the American Public Health Institute. 
The report’s authors, three American Dental Association Health Policy Institute researchers, credit the voluntary expansion of employer-sponsored dental insurance to dependent young adults age 19 to 25 is responsible for this increase. Obamacare allows employers to voluntarily expand dental insurance coverage to dependents through age 26, as is required for health insurance.
In a press release, ADA president Charles Norman, D.D.S. called it encouraging news but noted that it only represents a segment of the population and “millions of Americans continue to face barriers to dental care.”
The ADA’s Action for Dental Health movement is focused on three areas in what has been called the dental health crisis: 1) provide care now to people who are suffering from untreated disease; 2) strengthen and expand the public/private safety net; and 3) disease prevention and dental health education. The movement is composed of eight initiatives, including emergency room referral, fluoridation, and Missions of Mercy events and the Give Kids a Smile programs—click here to read more at ADA.org.
What about dependents who don’t have access to expanded dental insurance benefits?
Young adults who do not have access to dental insurance coverage through a parent or employer may consider an individual dental insurance plan. Such dental coverage may be purchased through an agent; from a dental insurance carrier; or at websites such as dentalinsurance.org or ehealthinsurance.com, which sell dental insurance plans from multiple nationally recognized carriers.
If you have questions or need help finding the right dental plan, call 888-468-3390 to talk to a dental insurance agent from dentalinsurance.org.
 American Dental Association. “ACA’s ‘Spillover’ Effect: Dental Coverage Rate Increasing for Young Adults Whose Parents Receive Health Insurance through Employers [Press Release].” June 21, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2014-archive/july/dental-coverage-rate-increasing-for-young-adults.
 American Dental Association. “Action for Dental Health.” Retrieved from http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/action-for-dental-health/.