Public Health Insurance to Cover Dental Care

Public health insurance like Medicaid expands its dental coverage by increasing the types of procedures it covers and the total amount a dentist can spend on an individual patient. This will help more dentists to locate the expansion areas, therefore increasing access.

A recent study published in the Journal of Public Economics discovered that Medicaid-induced financial incentives influence where providers choose to practice, potentially expanding access into previously underserved areas.

“This paper provides the first empirical evidence that Medicaid expansion can affect the location choices of providers,” said Huh, an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Using a universal database of all dentists in America from 2006 to 2013, researchers found that expanding adult Medicaid dental benefits increased the number of dentists per capita in low-income counties by 13%.


The increase was larger in counties where the expansions generated greater financial incentives for dentists. The study also revealed that the increase in dentist supply was primarily driven by those in private practice.

The financial incentives of expanded coverage encourage the private health care sector to provide services to low-income populations rather than relying on community health centers or public clinics.

Future research in this area will expand this line of research into the impact of Medicaid expansion on physicians and where they locate their practice.

Source: Medindia

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