California Passes Dental Plan Transparency Act

Dentistry Today


On September 29, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1008, which is a major victory for dental patients and providers, according to the California Dental Association (CDA). Sponsored by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the legislation supports a patient’s choice of provider and helps level the playing field for providers and patients, the CDA says. 

“No one should have to drill into 80 pages of legalese to understand their dental plan,” said Skinner. “SB 1008 requires dental insurers to provide details on what their plans cover in a simple, easy to understand format so consumers understand what services are covered and what services they may have to pay for out of pocket.” 

“Signing this bill into law is an unqualified victory for dental plan patients in California. Patients deserve to have clear, understandable information about their dental plans,” said CDA president Natasha Lee, DDS. “As providers, we all too often see patients in our offices struggle to understand what procedures are and are not covered. We aim to stop that and ensure patients get the care they need with SB 1008.”

As of January 1, 2021, state law will require standardized disclosures for all dental benefit plans using a uniform Summary of Benefits and Coverage template that will include covered services, reimbursement levels, estimated enrollee cost share, limitations, and exceptions. 

The standardized form will help purchasers and patients better understand and evaluate their options for dental coverage, the CDA says. Also, requiring dental plans to meet the same transparency standards as medical plans allows dentists to better understand their patients’ benefits and educate and counsel them when planning treatment, the CDA says.

“Healthy teeth are a key part of overall health,” said Skinner. “My bill fills a gap in consumer protection by holding dental insurance policies to a similar standard of disclosure as health insurance policies.”

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