Preventive Dental Care Linked With Fewer Emergency Room Visits

Dentistry Today


People with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease who received preventive dental care covered by BlueCross Dental benefits have fewer costly emergency room visits and hospital stays, according to a two-year study conducted by the Capital BlueCross family of companies as well as Dominion National and Geneia LLC.

“We know that having quality dental coverage, and using it for preventive care, can contribute to overall good health,” said Capital BlueCross president and CEO Gary St. Hilaire. “The findings of this study reinforce how integrating medical and dental coverage and care can be associated with improved health and lower costs for those dealing with chronic medical issues.”

The research, which didn’t use any member identifying information, looked at the differences in medical cost and utilization between Capital BlueCross members with chronic conditions and BlueCross Dental coverage who have received preventive dental services and those who have not received preventive dental services. It found:

  • People with chronic conditions but no BlueCross Dental coverage had a 7% higher incidence rate of inpatient hospital stays than those with BlueCross Dental coverage who received a preventive dental service.
  • Those who had BlueCross Dental coverage but did not receive preventive dental services had a 19% higher incidence rate of emergency department visits than those with BlueCross Dental coverage who received preventive dental services.

The study analyzed paid claims between July 2015 and June 2017 for individuals with and without BlueCross Dental coverage with a diagnosis for one or more of the following conditions: asthma; cerebrovascular disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; coronary artery disease; congestive heart failure; diabetes; osteoporosis; renal failure; and rheumatoid arthritis.

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