Dentists May Avoid Treating Children on Medicaid



Dentists are more interested in treating children with private insurance, according to a recent study in Illinois. The undercover research revealed that the dentists weren’t as interested in treating children on Medicaid.

To determine this belief, six members of the research team pretended to be mothers of a 10-year-old boy who didn’t exist. They claimed their child had a fractured front tooth.

The researchers called about 85 dental practices twice within the span of four weeks. They wanted to determine how their insurance coverage affected the specific practice’s decision to schedule a prompt appointment. In the study, of the 170 calls made to Medicaid-enrolled and other practices, 95.4 percent of children covered by Blue Cross scheduled an appointment. Only 36.5 percent of the children covered by Medicaid were able to schedule an appointment.

The team found that only slightly more than two thirds of the Medicaid-enrolled dentists would take on the children as patients.

This study appears online in the journal Pediatrics.

There are many issues involved with a child’s fractured front teeth, and the results could be disastrous. This issue impacts about one of seven children and 10 percent of those cases aren’t treated, based on the study’s findings.

The reason for the low number of appointments for children covered by Medicaid is the low reimbursement prices paid to dentists. The dentists in Illinois only receive 53 percent of their median fees, compared to around 60 percent in other states.

This information further confirms the idea that the less income a person has, it decreases his or her ability to receive the proper oral care needed. Medicaid reimbursement levels need to fall in line with reimbursement levels of other insurance companies in order for it to be worth a dentist’s time to take on these patients, according to the American Dental Association.

This study also shines light on this issue, which is beginning to be taken seriously. When children covered by Medicaid are turned down for appointments, the parents can ask their primary-care physician for assistance or they can turn to gre dental schools.