The American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute finds Connecticut increased utilization of dental care.
Connecticut is the national leader in providing dental care to children enrolled in Medicaid, according to a new report released by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute (HPI). The new study released this fall shows that Connecticut is a leader in providing care to children with private insurance, as well.
The national report demonstrates that the gap between utilization of dental benefits among children enrolled in Medicaid vs. private insurance is narrowing across the country. The report found Connecticut to be a national leader in large part due to the implementation of reforms to the State’s Medicaid dental program that include key factors which ensure access to dental care.
As a result of policy changes in 2008, which increased reimbursement rates and eliminated administrative hurdles, Connecticut was able to significantly increase the number of dentists participating in the program between 2008 and 2013. By increasing the number of dentists who accept HUSKY plans, quality, affordable dental care is now very accessible to a larger number of Connecticut residents, and as a result, Connecticut’s HUSKY program, is a national leader among State Medicaid dental plans. According to the HPI report, 64% of Medicaid-enrolled children in Connecticut visited the dentist in 2013. This number increased significantly from the 32% of Medicaid enrolled children who visited a dentist in 2005.
“Proper dental care is extremely important to maintaining overall physical health at any age,” said Dr. William Nash, President of the Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA). “When people have dental coverage, they are more likely to visit the dentist for preventative care and this helps them avoid more costly emergency care. We remain focused on increasing that access to care, but it is dependent on adequate funding of the Medicaid dental program.”
Utilization rates for adults are another story. Most states provide little or no dental Medicaid benefits for adults, and HPI research provides strong evidence that when benefits are made available to underserved patients, they can get better access to dental care.
Other recent research from HPI found that the inability to afford dental care is the predominant barrier to care among adults, not the number of providers. While the number of dental providers in Connecticut continues to rise, the disparity in dental care delivered among children and adults continues.
“We must address barriers preventing access to care for patients. Making improvements to Medicaid is a vital step in that direction,” explains Dr. Nash. “The CSDA urges policymakers to take a closer look at the changes that were made in the Medicaid reimbursement rates for children, a national example of a successful program and use it as a guide for establishing a better dental Medicaid program for adults in the State.”
About Connecticut State Dental Association
The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) has approximately 2,670 members including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants. As the trusted leader and voice for oral health care in Connecticut, the CSDA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1864. For more information about the CSDA, visit the Association's Website at www.csda.com.
About The Health Policy Institute
The Health Policy Institute is a thought leader and trusted source for policy knowledge on critical issues affecting the U.S. dental care system. HPI strives to generate, synthesize, and disseminate innovative research for policy makers, oral health advocates, and dental care providers. HPI’s interdisciplinary team of health economists, statisticians, and analysts has extensive expertise in health systems policy research. HPI staff routinely collaborates with researchers in academia and policy think tanks.