Medically Necessary Orthodontia related to the Pediatric Dental Essential Benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (039)

Number: 039
(Update)

Subject: Medically Necessary Orthodontia Related to the Pediatric Dental Essential Benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Review Date: July 23, 2014

Important Note

This Clinical Policy Bulletin explains how we determine whether certain services or supplies are medically necessary. We made these decisions based on a review of currently available clinical information including: 

  • Clinical outcome studies in the peer-reviewed published medical and dental literature
  • Regulatory status of the technology
  • Evidence-based guidelines of public health and health research agencies
  • Evidence-based guidelines and positions of leading national health professional organizations
  • Views of physicians and dentists practicing in relevant clinical areas
  • Other relevant factors

We expressly reserve the right to revise these conclusions as clinical information changes, and welcome further relevant information.

Each benefits plan defines which services are covered, which are excluded and which are subject to dollar caps or other limits. Members and their dentists will need to consult the member's benefits plan to determine if there are any exclusions or other benefits limitations apply to this service or supply. The conclusion that a particular service or supply is medically necessary does not guarantee that this service or supply is covered (that is, will be paid for by Aetna) for a particular member. The member's benefits plan determines coverage. Some plans exclude coverage for services or supplies that we consider medically necessary. If there is a discrepancy between this policy and a member's plan of benefits, the benefits plan will govern. In addition, coverage may be mandated by applicable legal requirements of a state, the federal government or CMS for Medicare and Medicaid members.

Policy

Comprehensive medically necessary orthodontic services are covered for members who have a severe handicapping malocclusion related to a medical condition such as:

  • Cleft palate or other congenital craniofacial or dentofacial malformations requiring reconstructive surgical correction in addition to orthodontic services
  • Trauma involving the oral cavity and requiring surgical treatment in addition to orthodontic services
  • Skeletal anomaly involving maxillary and/or mandibular structures

To be considered medically necessary (needed to treat, correct or ameliorate a medical defect or condition,) orthodontic services must be an essential part of an overall treatment plan developed by both the physician and the dentist in consultation with each other.

Establishment of medical necessity requires documentation to support the severe handicapping malocclusion and medical condition status. To qualify for coverage, a score of 42 points or greater on the Modified Salzmann Index is needed. Documentation must include a completed Salzmann assessment form and a written report from the attending physician, pediatrician, or qualified medical specialist(s) treating the deformity/anomaly. Progress notes, photographs and other relevant supporting documentation may be included as appropriate.

Orthodontic treatment for dental conditions that are primarily cosmetic in nature or when self-esteem is the primary reason for treatment does not meet the definition of medical necessity.

Background

On January 1, 2014, major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented. The ACA is adding required benefits to all new health plans. Aetna has been certified as a qualified health plan (QHP) in several states. As a part of the certification process Aetna will offer all 10 required essential health benefits (EHB). One of these EHB requirements is pediatric oral services, up to age 19. Guided by state benchmark plans, Aetna’s medical plans with embedded pediatric dental benefits will include medically necessary orthodontia.

Handicapping malocclusion assessment record
The Salzmann evaluation index and instructions

The Salzmann assessment record is intended to disclose whether a handicapping malocclusion is present and to assess its severity according to the criteria and weights (point values) assigned to them. The weights are based on tested clinical orthodontic values from the standpoint of the effect of the malocclusion on dental health, function, and esthetics. Etiology, diagnosis, planning, complexity of treatment, and prognosis are not factors in this assessment. The Salzmann evaluation form and instructions are included below.

Salzmann Evaluation Index

 

Possible orthodontic codes1*

D8010- Limited orthodontic treatment of the primary dentition
D8020- Limited orthodontic treatment of the transitional dentition
D8030- Limited orthodontic treatment of the adolescent dentition
D8040- Limited orthodontic treatment of the adult dentition
D8050- Interceptive orthodontic treatment of the primary dentition
D8060- Interceptive orthodontic treatment of transitional dentition
D8070- Comprehensive orthodontic treatment of the transitional dentition
D8080- Comprehensive orthodontic treatment of the adolescent dentition
D8090- Comprehensive orthodontic treatment of the adult dentition

The above policy is based on the following references:

  1. American Dental Association. CDT 2014 Dental Procedure Codes: 81-82*
  2. Agarwal, A. & Mathur, R. (2012) An overview of orthodontic indices. World Journal of Dentistry, January-March; 3(1):77-86. Retrieved from http://www.jaypeejournals.com/eJournals/ShowText.aspx?ID=2695&Type=FREE&TYP=TOP&IN=_eJournals/images/JPLOGO.gif&IID=212&isPDF=YES
  3. Department of Health and Human Services. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; standards related to essential health benefits, actuarial value, and accreditation. Retrieved from https://www.statereforum.org/sites/default/files/2012-28362_pi.pdf
  4. Salzmann, J.A. Handicapping malocclusion assessment to establish treatment priority. Am J Orthod 1968 Oct; 54(10) :749-65

    Please reference other Aetna Medical Policy Bulletins

*Copyright 2013 American Dental Association. All rights reserved.

Revision dates
Original policy: September 23, 2013

Revision:

Update: July 23, 2014

Property of Aetna Inc. All rights reserved. Clinical Policy Bulletins are developed by Aetna to assist in administering plan benefits and constitute neither offers of coverage nor medical advice. This Clinical Policy Bulletin contains only a partial, general description of plan or program benefits and does not constitute a contract. Aetna does not provide health care services and, therefore, cannot guarantee any results or outcomes. Participating health care professionals are independent contractors in private practice and are neither employees nor agents of Aetna or its affiliates. Treating health care professionals are solely responsible for medical advice and treatment of members.

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  • Aetna Dental Clinical Policy Bulletins (DCPBs) are developed to assist in administering plan benefits and do not constitute dental advice. Treating providers are solely responsible for dental advice and treatment of members. Members should discuss any Dental Clinical Policy Bulletin (DCPB) related to their coverage or condition with their treating provider.
  • While the Dental Clinical Policy Bulletins (DCPBs) are developed to assist in administering plan benefits, they do not constitute a description of plan benefits. The Dental Clinical Policy Bulletins (DCPBs) describe Aetna's current determinations of whether certain services or supplies are medically necessary, based upon a review of available clinical information. Each benefit plan defines which services are covered, which are excluded, and which are subject to dollar caps or other limits. Members and their providers will need to consult the member's benefit plan to determine if there are any exclusions or other benefit limitations applicable to this service or supply. Aetna's conclusion that a particular service or supply is medically necessary does not constitute a representation or warranty that this service or supply is covered (i.e., will be paid for by Aetna). Your benefits plan determines coverage. Some plans exclude coverage for services or supplies that Aetna considers medically necessary. If there is a discrepancy between this policy and a member's plan of benefits, the benefits plan will govern. In addition, coverage may be mandated by applicable legal requirements of a State or the Federal government.
  • Please note also that Dental Clinical Policy Bulletins (DCPBs) are regularly updated and are therefore subject to change.
  • Since Dental Clinical Policy Bulletins (DCPBs) can be highly technical and are designed to be used by our professional staff in making clinical determinations in connection with coverage decisions, members should review these Bulletins with their providers so they may fully understand our policies.
  • Under certain plans, if more than one service can be used to treat a covered person's dental condition, Aetna may decide to authorize coverage only for a less costly covered service provided that certain terms are met.
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