Evaluation of the Dental Wellness Plan: Member Experiences in the First Year

Reynolds, J.C.; Damiano, P.C.; McKernan, S.C.; McInroy, B.; Bentler, S.E.; Momany, E.T.; Kuthy, R.A.


The Dental Wellness Plan (DWP) provides dental benefits for members enrolled in the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan (IHAWP), Iowa’s version of the Medicaid expansion and was enacted through bi-partisan legislation to provide comprehensive health care coverage to low income adults. The DWP was implemented on May 1, 2014, and is administered by Delta Dental of Iowa. It has a unique earned benefits structure aimed at encouraging preventive health care-seeking behaviors. Enrollees earn additional covered services when they return for regular periodic recall exams every 6-12 months. The aim of this study is to evaluate DWP members’ experiences with the program and to make comparisons with Medicaid members’ experiences.

To investigate whether the experiences of members in the DWP program were different from those in the traditional dental Medicaid program, surveys were administered 10 months after implementation of DWP (Spring 2015) to a random sample new DWP members and new adult Medicaid members who were income eligible through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families designation. Members were eligible if they had been enrolled continuously for 7-10 months with up to one month of ineligibility. Respondents were given the option to complete the survey on paper or online. Of the 4800 DWP and 1350 Medicaid members surveyed, 30% (n=1260) DWP and 16% (n=191) responded. Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted to compare characteristics and responses between the DWP and Medicaid groups. Compared to those who did not respond to the surveys, Medicaid respondents were significantly more likely to be older, and DWP survey respondents were more likely to be older, female, and white.