February JADA finds oral health care spending differences between Medicaid, commercial plans

Early childhood caries, oral cancer occur more frequently in patients with Medicaid


An analysis published in the February issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association  found substantial differences in the timing, impact and severity of caries, periodontal disease and oral cancer between patients enrolled in Medicaid and those with commercial dental insurance plans.

The cover story, "A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Oral Health Care Spending Over the Life Span in Commercial- and Medicaid-Insured Populations," looked at Medicaid and commercial claim databases and compared per enrollee spending on fee-for-service dental claims and medical spending on oral health care for patients from birth through age 89. Average spending on basic and major oral health care was higher at all ages among those with commercial insurance or supplemental Medicare plans than those enrolled in Medicaid.

The authors also found oral health care use and spending are lower during the first four years of life and in young adulthood than in other periods of life, and early childhood caries and oral cancer occur more frequently and at younger ages in patients with Medicaid.

"Health policies should be focused on optimizing care delivery to provide effective preventive care at specific stages of the life span rather than policy development that is precipitated by short-term political and financial dynamics," said Eric P. Tranby, Ph.D., lead author of the study and director of analytics and data insights at CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.

Other articles in the February issue of JADA discuss dentists' opioid prescribing habits and beliefs, primary headaches and temporomandibular disorders, and the impact of COVID-19 on dental practice.

Every month, JADA articles are published online at in advance of the print publication.

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