Should Medicaid include adult coverage for preventive dental procedures? What evidence is needed?

Shulamite S. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Medicaid programs may have a salient financial incentive to provide adult coverage for cost-effective preventive dental procedures because they face responsibility for catastrophic costs of dental disease. Whether there is sufficient evidence to support adult Medicaid coverage of preventive dental services is unclear. Methods: Using an optimal insurance model, the author examines what evidence there is to support coverage of cost-effective preventive dental services in Medicaid and what evidence gaps remain. Results: There is insufficient evidence to support adult Medicaid coverage for preventive dental procedures. Conclusions: More research is needed to identify preventive dental procedures that are cost-effective from a Medicaid perspective, quantify the impact dental prevention has on dental-related health care costs and overall health care costs, and quantify the impact patient-side and provider-side financial incentives have on take-up of specific preventive dental treatments. Practical Implications: Although Medicaid programs may have an interest in preventing catastrophic costs of dental disease (that is, dental-related emergency department visits), there is insufficient evidence for Medicaid programs to provide coverage for preventive dental procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-613
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Volume151
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • access to care
  • Dental insurance
  • insurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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