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Dental Care for Kids on Medicaid Varies by Fees Each State Sets
Date:7/13/2011

lower fees, which hardly cover their costs for cleaning let alone their responsibility when they find severe dental disease," she said.

A recent study showed that some dentists agree to participate in Medicaid, and then make it difficult for Medicaid patients to see them for dental care, Schaechter added.

"From the patient perspective, if that happens enough, they think no one will see them. They give up trying to find a Medicaid dentist," she said. "Finally, with little to no financial incentives, neither dentists nor the Medicaid dental insurers are motivated to do sufficient outreach and educate families about coverage and the need to get preventive care at least every six months."

States are obligated to provide children with the same access and quality of health care through Medicaid as they would get with private insurance, Schaechter said. "We simply can't do that if we are not willing to pay for it."

For the latest study, Decker used data from the National Health Interview Survey from 2000-2001 on 33,657 children and adolescents, along with data on Medicaid dental fees in 2000 and 2008 in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

She found that in 23 states, the 2008 Medicaid dental fees were lower than they were in 2000 (after adjusting for inflation). In 19 states and the District of Columbia, Medicaid fees were higher in 2008 than in 2000.

In Connecticut, Indiana, Montana, New York, Texas and the District of Columbia, Medicaid payments to dentists increased by at least 50 percent between 2000 and 2008, Decker said.

Whether a child or adolescent had seen a dentist in the past six months was dependent on the type of insurance they had, Decker found.

In 2008 and 2009, children on Medicaid were less likely to see a dentist compared with children with private insurance (55 percent versus 68 percent, respectively) in the past six-month period. However, both groups were more likely to see a dentist than children w
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