Dental employees in the state of Ohio will be able to take employers’ money to cover dental expenses after a federal court ruling this week.
A district court in Cleveland found that Ohio employers must make up the difference for dental care for their employees who are covered by a state insurance program.
If the workers don’t qualify, they can’t get dental care.
The ruling comes as Ohio lawmakers debate legislation to provide dental coverage to all residents.
The legislation has been stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate for the past two years.
However, in the wake of the ruling, dental unions and the Ohio Democratic Party sent a letter to Ohio employers, saying they will not be able, and that they are already working to make dental care affordable.
Dental health is a critical component of any health care plan, the letter said.
“We believe that dental care is a human right, not a privilege,” the letter says.
Employers that opt out of the state dental plan are allowed to deduct the cost of the dental care, but must pay a surcharge to cover the difference.
Employers are required to provide employees with health insurance, but can opt out and continue to provide coverage.
Ohio’s health care reform law required employers to provide health insurance.
“It’s a relief for dental employees who feel they are being cheated by employers,” says Sarah Bly, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati School of Dentistry.
Bly says dental workers should be able get a financial benefit, but the state’s dental plan does not cover dental care or preventative services.
“If you don’t have dental insurance, it’s hard to get coverage,” Bly says.
“The amount of dental care you need to get to be able cover those costs is huge.
It’s hard for a person who is not able to get dental insurance to afford that.”
Employees who want dental care should check with their employer, or their state’s health insurance provider.
“Dental care is essential to a person’s overall health,” Byn says.
“If dental care wasn’t covered, it would be hard for people who need it to get it.”
If employers do not provide dental insurance coverage, they may be able access dental care through private insurers, but that would be difficult because many of the insurance companies have stopped offering coverage.
Bly adds that private insurers could still pay for dental treatments.
According to the Ohio Office of Insurance, there are more than 3,200 dental insurance companies in the United States.
While the Ohio dental plan is not yet available, Bly believes dental insurance could become available in the near future.
She says it’s important for dental professionals to know their options and make sure their dental care does not go under the table.
Follow Kelly Bly on Twitter: @kellybly