Adult Medicaid benefits increases dental care, but expansion limits utilization: 3 study insights

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Dental coverage for adult enrollees is optional under Medicaid, but when offered, is often utilized. However, Medicaid expansion had a mixed effect on utilization, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

Astha Singhal, DMD, and colleagues examined Medicaid dental benefit utilization in low-income adults before and after Medicaid expansion, in 2010 and 2014.

Here's what they found.

1. Low-income adults were more likely to visit the dentist in states that provided dental benefits beyond emergency-only coverage.

2. Utilization varied in states that provided dental coverage and expanded their Medicaid program because of provider capacity.

3. Childless adults had more dental visits (1.8 percentage points) because of expanded coverage, but parent utilization significantly declined (8.1 percentage points) because of limited dental provider capacity.

Researchers concluded that, "policy-level efforts may be needed to expand the dental care delivery system's capacity."

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