Coming to the ‘Land of Opportunity’ has been your dream for years, and you finally made it here. At last, you’re a free person in a free land. Of course, you may also be a stranger in a strange land. No matter how many times you’ve been to the United States before you made it to stay, you likely have a lot of questions that you may not have had before. One of the biggest (and perhaps most neglected) questions of all facing new immigrants to the U.S. is regarding dental care. Naturally, you already know how to physically care for your teeth, as you’ve been doing it your whole life. But what about all those questions you have over and above your own brushing and flossing? For instance, how do you, as someone who has just newly immigrated to America, go about caring for your teeth financially? What do you do if you get a cavity? What if you lose a tooth or you need to have a tooth pulled? What if you need dentures or implants? And, perhaps most important of all, how do you care for your children’s teeth? Following is some important information that may help you wade through your dental care options, including your rights and the rights of your children, now that you’re a new immigrant to the United States of America.
The hotly debated Affordable Care Act, otherwise referred to as ‘Obamacare,’ generally does not include dental care, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get good dental coverage as a new immigrant, especially for your children. It’s important to know that dental coverage for children is a required benefit that must be included in all plans. It’s also extremely helpful to know that dental coverage is included in many of today’s health insurance plans (certainly many more than in the past). In most of these plans many insured households share the cost of dental coverage, making it less of a burden on each member. However, under the Affordable Care Act, children must be offered dental coverage. It is up to you, as a parent, whether you take it or not.
Adults do not have to be offered dental coverage under the ADA, but there are many good health insurance plans in the general marketplace that offer it. The good news about most of these is that they contain built-in ‘cost sharing’ within the premiums, meaning you don’t have to bear the entire cost of your own dental care. In these plans, overall cost options are determined that spread the cost among thousands or even millions of members, allowing you to pay less for the dental care you need to keep your teeth and mouth healthy for a lifetime. There are also ‘standalone’ dental plans for adults. These are separate dental care plans from the general marketplace, and most of these also include cost sharing with other members.
As mentioned above, your children may be able to obtain dental care, as the ADA requires that all plans include dental care for kids. You may also decide to include your children in your own dental plan, as most health insurance plans that include dental care options have benefits that cost very little to add one or more dependent children. There are even cost assistance resources within the Federal Government that pertain to the children of new immigrants, as children’s dental health has been deemed a necessity by many in our government. It’s important to know, however, that most dental plans, whether standalone or included in a health insurance plan, do not cover the total cost of major dental procedures such as dental implants and other oral surgeries. Be sure to ask your agent when purchasing a health insurance or standalone dental care plan. Customer service agents working with the Affordable Care Act should also be able to answer your questions.
Navigating new waters is never easy. Luckily, those waters have been well sailed, making them well maneuvered by many who’ve come here before you and your family. As a new immigrant, it isn’t necessary to ‘sink or swim.’ Our great country is rich with resources that can provide helpful information regarding how to care for your teeth, as well as how to pay for dental procedures.