New Study Shows Expanded Access to Dentistry for Children

November 15, 2016
Joe Hannan

The study also showed increased access across demographics, such as race/ethnicity and income.

A new study shows steady expansion of children’s access to health services—including dental visits—since 2000.

Going deeper than an investigation of increased access, the study, which was published in the American Academy of Pediatrics, also looked into whether the access translated across racial/ethnic and income demographics.

Researchers analyzed a group of 178,038 children, aged 0 to 17 years, from the year 2000 until 2014 that were a part of the National Health Interview Survey. They measured lack of access to care using the following 5 indicators:

1. Lack of a well-child visit within the year.

2. No visit to a doctor’s office within the year.

3. No visit to a dentist’s office within the year.

4. No “unusual source of care” within the year.

5. No “unmet health needs” within the year.

The findings were encouraging, the study says. “Among all children, uninsured rates declined from 12.1% in 2000 to 5.3% in 2014, with improvement across all 5 access indicators.” There were also significant improvements within demographics. Hispanic children, of whom 19.8% percent hadn’t gone to the doctor in 2000, fell to 11.9% in 2014. Lack of dental visits among Hispanic children also fell from 43.2% in 2000 to 21.8% in 2014. Large gains were also seen for black children and children from low-income families, the study notes.

“Children’s access to health services has improved since 2000 with greater gains in vulnerable population groups. Findings support a need for continued support of health insurance for all children,” the study concludes.

According to an ObamacareFacts.com analysis of Gallup-HealthWise survey data, about 1.5 million children have left the ranks of the uninsured since the third quarter of 2013 as a result of expanded access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It remains to be seen, however, how President-elect Donald Trump may alter the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how those changes could affect people with coverage under the ACA.

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