Medicaid Expansions Linked to Lasting Improvements in Oral Health
Expanded Medicaid eligibility geared toward pregnant women and infants during the 1980s and 1990s appears to have improved oral health among non-Hispanic black adults who became eligible as infants, an AHRQ study found. Findings using federal survey data suggest that the expansions may have had long-lasting effects on the oral health of the children, perhaps due to an increase in expectant mothers’ use of prenatal care and access to health care, including dental care. Results also suggest that oral health among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic young adults may have improved due to expanded income eligibility for Medicaid enrollees ages 1 to 6. Taken together, these findings indicate that the Medicaid expansions of the 1980s and 1990s may have had long-lasting effects for certain low-income children and helped narrow racial/ethnic disparities in adult oral health. Access an abstract of the article, “Previous Medicaid Expansion May Have Had Lasting Positive Effects on Oral Health of Non-Hispanic Black Children,” in the December issue of Health Affairs.
Previous Medicaid Expansion May Have Had Lasting Positive Effects On Oral Health Of Non-Hispanic Black Children
- 1Brandy J. Lipton (Brandy.firstname.lastname@example.org) is a health economist at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in Rockville, Maryland.
- 2Laura R. Wherry is an assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.
- 3Sarah Miller is an assistant professor at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.
- 4Genevieve M. Kenney is a senior fellow and codirector of the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, in Washington, D.C.
- 5Sandra Decker is a senior fellow at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
- ↵*Corresponding author
Healthy tooth development starts early in life, beginning even before birth. We present new evidence suggesting that a historic public health insurance expansion for pregnant women and children in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s may have had long-lasting effects on the oral health of the children gaining eligibility. We estimated the relationship between adult oral health and the extent of state public health insurance eligibility for pregnant women, infants, and children throughout childhood separately for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Hispanics. We found that expanded Medicaid coverage geared toward pregnant women and children during their first year of life was linked to better oral health in adulthood among non-Hispanic blacks. Our results also suggested that there might be a benefit to expanded public health insurance eligibility for children at ages 1–6 among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. Medicaid expansions appear to have had long-lasting effects for certain low-income children and helped narrow racial/ethnic disparities in adult oral health.
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