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Kentucky bill could mean higher dental care costs

Apr 03, 2012

A House bill awaiting Kentucky Gov Steven Beshear’s signature could cause dental care costs to rise in that state, say opponents of the bill.

The Kentucky Dental Association sponsored HB 497 and the one-paragraph amendment attached to it just a week before the legislative session concluded. As amended the bill would prohibit health and vision insurance plans from requiring dentists, optometrists and ophthalmologists to discount fees for services not paid by the insurer.

Dr. Terry L. Norris, president of the Kentucky Dental Association, says the insurance companies have mistreated dentists for years by requiring them to give discounts to network members on procedures that the insurance companies don’t cover. The association said the amended bill would promote fairness in the way insurance companies treat dentists who contract to participate in their networks.

The amendment reads, “A participating provider agreement shall not require a participating provider to provide services to an enrolled participant at a fee set by or subject to the approval of the limited health services benefit plan unless the services are covered services under the provider agreement.”

The Catholic Conference of Kentucky and the AFL-CIO oppose the measure, citing concerns that the bill will increase the costs and out-of-pocket expenses of dental and vision services for low-income people.

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville also argued against the bill as amended, saying that it will cause insurance companies to eliminate most of the affordable dentist and vision plans. Without the discounts on the higher cost procedures the low-cost plans cover now, the plans will no longer be cost effective for consumers and people will go without coverage and the treatments they need, she said.

It was unknown at press time whether Gov Beshear intended to sign the bill into law or veto it.


Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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