Coverage for HUSKY Parents Supports Oral Health Access for Two Generations

March 20, 2015

Today’s post was written by Elizabeth Krause, vice president of Policy and Communications

Coverage for HUSKY Parents Supports Oral Health Access for Two Generations

Children cannot coordinate their own dental care.

As a mom who was just at the pediatric dentist’s office with my kids the other day, I could have told you that. The role of parents in coordinating children’s dental care is a key point that will be made in an infographic, “The Impact of Family on Children’s on Dental Health” that will be released next week by CT Health and Connecticut Voices for Children.

But, there are policy and delivery systems implications to this truism. If children are dependent on their caregivers to coordinate dental care, families are helped by systems and policies that support good oral health.

Governor Malloy’s biennial budget proposal would eliminate HUSKY (Medicaid) eligibility for parents of children on HUSKY whose incomes fall between 138-201% of the Federal poverty level (FPL) and pregnant women with incomes between 138-263% FPL. The proposal suggests these parents will purchase commercial insurance with subsidies via Access Health CT. The range of consequences of such a change are detailed in CT Health’s new policy brief, “How Proposed HUSKY Cuts Will Harm Low-Income Families,” but let’s continue to think teeth.

Harm of Moving HUSKY Parents to Access Health CT:

  • 34,000 parents will lose HUSKY dental benefits
  • Parents who purchase commercial health insurance (our publication projects that only a fraction will) would need to purchase an optional standalone dental plan or pay for dental care out of pocket. Affording health insurance premiums and copays will be a strain on these families’ budgets. We can reasonably assume many will forgo dental coverage and care.
  • Child coverage tends to drop when parents become uninsured, even when child eligibility does not change. If the proposal is enacted, a group of children would be expected to lose HUSKY coverage, including dental benefits.
  • The upcoming infographic will make the case that HUSKY children access preventive dental care at higher levels when their parents get preventive dental care. If parents do not get dental care as a result of this policy change, this is one more reason to expect children’s dental utilization to tick downward.
  • There is increasing understanding of the importance of dental care for pregnant women and their babies with much opportunity to increase the provision of dental care during pregnancy. The loss of HUSKY dental coverage and the financial barriers to obtaining it are especially concerning for pregnant women.

The emerging concept of a two generational approach to ensuring well-being for Connecticut residents is not hard to embrace, but policy and budget alignment is needed to make the philosophy a reality.

HUSKY coverage for low-income children and their parents recognizes that health care is a family affair.

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