How Affordable Care Act has affected kids going to ED for nontraumatic dental care

A May study published in Pediatric Dentistry details an overall decline in emergency department visits for pediatric patients seeking nontraumatic dental care since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, although these visits from children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds increased.

Researchers examined nontraumatic dental care visits to emergency departments in the U.S. among people 20 years old and younger between 2010 and 2017 using data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, the largest all-payer emergency department database in the U.S.

Results of the study show that nontraumatic emergency department visits decreased from 103.1 to 89.3 per 10,000 visits between 2010 and 2017. However, emergency department visits for nontraumatic dental care by pediatric Medicaid patients increased from 51 percent to 65.3 percent from 2010 to 2017. The odds of these visits were higher among uninsured patients and Medicaid enrollees ages 15-20 years old, but were lower among patients who lived in wealthier ZIP codes.

The study concluded that these emergency department visits for nontraumatic dental care by pediatric patients decreased over time following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but that emergency care continued to be utilized at higher rates for children of low socioeconomic status.

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