New reports spec­u­lat­ing on the future of the Afford­able Care Act have come out almost dai­ly since Amer­i­ca elect­ed Don­ald Trump to be the next pres­i­dent. Here at Delta Den­tal, our lead­er­ship involved with health care reform breaks down what all the hub­bub may mean for the den­tal ben­e­fits indus­try in 2017.

Clients and enrollees won’t feel effects of any major changes for a few years

No “sig­nif­i­cant change to the health care mar­ket — med­ical or den­tal” is expect­ed for three or four years, says Jeff Album, Delta Dental’s vice pres­i­dent of Pub­lic and Gov­ern­ment Affairs.

“Repeal and replace has changed to repeal and delay,” Album says. “It’s clear that both Con­gress and the new admin­is­tra­tion are going to want to min­i­mize dis­rup­tion to the exist­ing sys­tem.”

Album expects Con­gress will take action ear­ly in 2017 to defund parts of the law, but post­pone when that takes effect. In the mean­time, law­mak­ers will deter­mine how the replace­ment will look.

As the new law is devel­oped, he says, Delta Den­tal will take an active role by help­ing the indus­try “define its advo­ca­cy agen­da” in terms that best serve exist­ing and prospec­tive cus­tomers’ needs.

Health Insurance Tax could be modified or repealed in 2017

Ear­ly this year, Album says, Con­gress will like­ly seek to find com­mon ground on the future of tax­es asso­ci­at­ed with the law, includ­ing the Cadil­lac tax and the health insur­ance tax (HIT). The HIT tax, charged to insur­ance car­ri­ers based on pre­mi­ums earned, was put on a one-year mora­to­ri­um for 2017.

The fate of the HIT is the “biggest ques­tion” this year for the Actu­ar­i­al and Under­writ­ing depart­ments at Delta Den­tal as they pre­pare for 2018, says Tom Lei­bowitz, vice pres­i­dent and chief actu­ary.

Over­all, Lei­bowitz says he expects rates for den­tal ben­e­fits will con­tin­ue to stay large­ly sta­ble for 2018.

“Unlike health care, den­tal had fair­ly small impact on rat­ing require­ments from the ACA,” he says, “so those huge cost increas­es that have been seen on the pub­lic exchanges for med­ical are not tak­ing place in the den­tal world.”

Public exchanges are sticking around for now, and Delta Dental will stick with them

Delta Den­tal and its affil­i­ate com­pa­nies have already start­ed work on 2018 exchange plan offer­ings.

“We are com­mit­ted to the exchanges as long as they’re a viable plat­form through which we can sell stand­alone pedi­atric and fam­i­ly den­tal plans,” says Andrea Feg­ley, vice pres­i­dent of Legal & Reg­u­la­to­ry. “Par­tic­i­pa­tion in pub­lic health care exchanges aligns well with our mis­sion to advance den­tal health and access.”

Pub­lic exchange ben­e­fit offer­ings com­ple­ment Delta Dental’s exist­ing busi­ness strat­e­gy, adds Moham­madReza Navid, vice pres­i­dent of Sales.

“Regard­less of the ACA’s future, Delta Den­tal will con­tin­ue to find inno­v­a­tive ways to increase den­tal access for all,” Navid says.

Both agreed that the company’s plan­ning and strate­gic ini­tia­tives will keep Delta Den­tal at the fore­front of the indus­try.