Day 29 – Medicaid at 50: Smiles

Dental care is an unsung hero of health care. In addition to being very important for your health, it really matters for nontrivial quality of life reasons. Tooth problems are a pretty common reason for preventable emergency department visits. Good teeth help you eat a nutritious diet and can matter for your employment prospects in areas like the service industry (social determinants of health!)

All children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP have comprehensive dental coverage, and an average of 48% received preventive dental services during federal FY 2013 (based on state by state averages). Increasing use of dental care has been a goal in recent years, with a national aim of increasing uptake by 10 percentage points. For adults, dental is an optional Medicaid benefit that states can offer. Most cover emergency dental care, but less than half of states offer comprehensive dental care as part of their adult benefit package. Let’s hope access to dental care continues to increase for both children and adults.

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