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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

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Dental not included in COBRA

originally posted: 3/9/2011  revised 8/31/2012

Q: I have been paying my COBRA premiums for many months and it will expire soon. My problem is my dental provider, Aetna, is saying I do not have coverage even though my COBRA administrator is saying they have communicated to Aetna that I do in fact have coverage. So I have gone back-n-forth with each entity blaming the other. Meanwhile I need a dentist appointment.

A: Based only on the brief information in your message you should be aware that dental insurance is not covered under COBRA law. While it is possible for Aetna to offer this as continuation coverage separately and in addition to COBRA coverage, it may be useful to know that this is not the typical practice for Aetna, especially when the COBRA plan is handled by a third party administrator.

The best solution may be to find some documentation that might have been provided to you at the time of COBRA enrollment that specifically refers to the dental insurance premium as included in the billed premium. Otherwise, without written indication, it would not be reasonable to assume that a dental insurance was included in a COBRA premium when this is not the normal procedure for COBRA continuation coverage.

If you are not successful, please consider a separate dental plan from Freedom Benefits as a fast immediate response. This brand is the highest quality and most popular of its type in the U.S. You might see a big immediate cash savings in out-of-pocket from a small membership fee. The program even offers a 30 day trial period so there would be little risk in trying this route. Dental insurance, in contrast, is typically priced higher, has a waiting period, co-payments or deductibles, and provides only marginally better reduction in net out-of-pocket costs.

Dental insurance is not usually included in a COBRA plan; discount dental plans may offer better value for lower cost than individual dental insurance.

More resources:

Dental plans on Freedom Benefits insurance exchange

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