The economic, oral health, and overall health outcomes above are tremendous arguments for states to invest in a Medicaid adult dental benefit, but access challenges will persist without systematic approaches to oral health.
Presumably, increasing coverage under Medicaid would have reduced emergency department utilization and associated costs. Why didn’t this happen for Kentucky?
- 23 percent of low-income individuals cited inconvenient locations or time as a reason to avoid going to a dentist.
- Kentucky’s reimbursement for dental services was 44 percent of commercial rates.
- Due to few dental providers in the state, Kentucky had 99 dental health provider shortage areas, and only 39 percent of Kentucky dentists participated in the Medicaid program.
Coverage is a critical first step to ensuring access to dental services for adults served by Medicaid, but it cannot be the only step.
- provider capacity and support,
- reimbursement rates,
- dynamic oral health education, and
- the integration of oral health screenings and/or referrals into primary care are.