Hawaii Insurers to Offer Basic Dental Coverage in 2019

Dentistry Today


AlohaCare and ’Ohana Health Plan will offer basic adult dental care coverage through each company’s expanded Medicaid offering beginning January 1, 2019. Since 2009, dental care coverage for adults enrolled in Hawaii’s Medicaid program has been limited to emergency care. Hawaii has about 364,000 residents enrolled in Medicaid.

According to a 2015 Hawaii Department of Health report, many residents face dental health disparities, particularly low-income residents who are less likely to see a dentist each year. The report also found that many residents seek dental care at hospital emergency departments even though dental services generally aren’t available there. 

To promote better oral health, AlohaCare and ’Ohana Health Plan now will cover the cost of basic dental care for adults who have Medicaid as their sole source of medical insurance coverage. Members will have the benefit of an annual exam, fluoride treatment, a cleaning every six months, one set of bitewing x-rays per year, and either a non-emergent tooth extraction or filling. Members with dual coverage (Medicaid and Medicare) won’t qualify. 

“The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body and provides clues about overall health and larger health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” said Scott Sivik, state president, ’Ohana Health Plan. “At ’Ohana Health Plan, we believe maintaining a healthy community means providing quality dental care to those who need it the most.” 

“We are excited to address a major coverage disparity for adults covered by Medicaid in Hawaii,” said Laura Esslinger, CEO, AlohaCare. “At last, adults who have QUEST Integration coverage will have access to oral healthcare to better integrate care and improve overall health and well-being.” 

“We applaud ’Ohana Health Plan and AlohaCare for recognizing that oral health is an integral part of a person’s well-being and for launching this important Medicaid dental initiative,” said Sheila Beckham, CEO, Waikiki Health. “Waikiki Health currently has over 5,000 patients on Medicaid who have been struggling to get basic dental benefits since 2009.”

Liberty Dental Plan currently contracts with local dentists and will manage the dental network for both health plans.

“Liberty looks forward to our partnership with the local dental providers,” said Amir Neshat, DDS, founder and CEO of Liberty Dental Plan. “We look forward to providing this valuable adult dental benefit as it will improve overall health.”

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