The Children's Dental Health Project's blog
Children with dental coverage at all-time high
Researchers at the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute presented an update on dental coverage and utilization data during a recent webinar. Their analysis of federal-level data found that children (aged 0-18) continue to see increases in access to dental care, particularly among low and moderate incomes. In addition, primarily as a result of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the percentage of children with dental coverage is at an all-time high.
As of 2013, only 12.2% of children and adolescents were without dental coverage, down from 14.2% in 2011 and nearly half of what the uninsured rate was among this population prior to the passage of CHIP. It’s encouraging that the share of children with public coverage such as Medicaid or CHIP has continued to grow over the last decade.
The ADA’s data also indicate more young adults are maintaining dental benefits as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which allows young adults to stay on their parents’ coverage through age 26. And while there has been a slight increase in children with private dental coverage since 2010, the year the ACA was passed, we can say little about the impact of the ACA’s new health insurance marketplaces as coverage did not begin until 2014. As CDHP has previously pointed out, enrollment data from the Department of Health and Human Services does not provide an adequate account of whether children are enrolled in health coverage that includes dental benefits. As such, it has been nearly impossible to evaluate the law’s impact in terms of increasing access to private dental coverage which is increasingly important as we approach the fall 2017 deadline for CHIP funding. In the meantime, we hope HHS improves its data reporting.
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