In states where MetLife is targeting on or off marketplace participation, the dental insurer will update dental plans to assist clients in complying with the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is scheduled to become effective Jan. 1, 2014 for most small-business employers.

For those effected small businesses, medical insurance carriers will be required to offer medical plans consisting of 10 essential health benefits (EHB), including pediatric dental and vision coverage for children through age 19. MetLife will add pediatric dental benefits to dental benefit plans to meet EHB requirements. Changes will be effective Jan. 1, 2014, for groups with 50 or fewer employees. MetLife also plans to offer EHB benefits to small groups in about 20 states via the public marketplaces, the company said.

“Small businesses can address the ACA’s requirements by choosing a fully insured dental plan from a standalone dental carrier,” says Christen White, VP, group dental and vision at MetLife. “MetLife is committed to helping its clients comply with the ACA by adding the pediatric dental benefit requirements to many of our dental benefit plans.”

Selecting a fully insured dental benefit plan from a standalone dental carrier may also provide tax benefits down the road, MetLife said; fully insured dental plan are considered “standalone” and will not be subject to the “Cadillac” excise tax, which is scheduled to take effect in 2018. Self-insured dental plans offered with a medical plan may be subject to the tax.

“In addition to the administrative benefits of selecting a stand-alone dental carrier, small businesses also enjoy the expertise of these insurers, including experience in claim handling and robust provider networks,” White said. “Standalone plans also offer a broader selection of plan designs to meet the varied needs of employees and their families.”

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