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Iowa Supreme Court Ruling Could Mean Higher Dental Bills

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says insurers cannot impose price caps on dentists who accept their plans for procedures that aren't reimbursed.

The court's 7-0 ruling Friday is a victory for dentists who can now set their own prices for some services, rather than being forced to accept the maximum fees that insurers want them to charge.

But it's also a potential setback for patients who could see higher bills for some procedures, even some that their policies would normally cover. Under the ruling, dentists are free to set their own prices when an insurer does not pay for a normally-covered procedure because of limits in the policy, such as maximum annual benefits.

Iowa's insurance commissioner warned in 2011 that some patients could face significantly higher costs if dentists prevailed.