Medicaid to offer basic dental care

The Maui News

Basic adult dental care coverage for Medicaid patients will be offered through AlohaCare and ‘Ohana Health Plan statewide, including Maui County, beginning Jan. 1.

Since 2009, adult dental care coverage for those in the Medicaid program has been limited to emergency care, the news release Monday from the insurers said.

Hawaii has about 364,000 residents enrolled in Medicaid, a health care program funded by the state and federal government for those with limited resources. There are about 44,560 Medicaid beneficiaries in Maui County.

AlohaCare and ‘Ohana Health Plan will cover the cost of basic dental care for adults who have Medicaid as their sole source of medical insurance. Members will receive an annual exam, fluoride treatment, a cleaning every six months, one set of bitewing X-rays per year and either a nonemergent tooth extraction or filling.

Members with dual coverage (Medicaid and Medicare) will not qualify.

“Oral health is critical to good health and overall well-being,” said Scott Sivik, state president of ‘Ohana Health Plan. “The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body and provides clues about overall health and larger health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”

“We are excited to address a major coverage disparity for adults covered by Medicaid in Hawaii,” said Laura Esslinger, chief executive officer of AlohaCare.

Liberty Dental Plan currently contracts with local dentists and will manage the dental network for both health plans.

The enrollment period for both plans is through Oct. 31.

AlohaCare is a nonprofit health plan founded in 1994 by Hawaii’s community health centers. It is the third largest health plan in Hawaii and serves more than 70,000 Medicaid and Medicare members.

‘Ohana Health Plan serves about 48,000 members through its offices in Kapolei, Oahu; Hilo; and Kahului. It is a WellCare Health Plans company, which is based in Tampa, Fla., and has been operating in Hawaii since 2008, The website of the company is