Dentists' Participation and Children's Use of Services in the Indiana Dental Medicaid Program and SCHIP: Assessing the Impact of Increased Fees and Administrative Changes
BACKGROUND: The authors conducted a study to evaluate whether administrative changes, including higher fee schedules for dental services in the Indiana dental Medicaid program and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), were associated with improved dentist participation and utilization of dental services by children. METHODS: The authors evaluated dentists' participation and children's use of services for the two years before fees were increased to 100 percent of the 75th percentile of usual and customary fees, compared with two years after the increase. They obtained administrative data from the Indiana Department of Family and Social Services Administration and the Indiana Department of Public Health to determine participation rates and service use. RESULTS: The number of dentists seeing a Medicaid-enrolled child increased from 770 in fiscal year (FY) 1997 to 1,096 in FY 2000. The number of Medicaid-enrolled children with any dental visit increased from 68,717 (18 percent) to 147,878 (32 percent), with little difference between children enrolled through the Medicaid-SCHIP and traditional Medicaid programs by FY 2000. The mean number of visits per child per year and the mean number of procedures per child per year remained relatively constant. The cost per enrolled child increased from dollars 1.70 to dollars 6.70 per month, while the cost per child with a visit increased from dollars 9 to dollars 21 per month. CONCLUSION: The increase in fees and changes in administration of the Indiana dental Medicaid program were positively associated with improved dentist participation and children's use of dental services. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Changes beyond increasing fees to 100 percent of the 75th percentile may be needed if Medicaid-enrolled children are to have access to dental care commensurate with their lower oral health status and greater need for services. Sustained fee increases also are important. As of 2003, no increase in dental fees had occurred in the Indiana Medicaid program since the increase in FY 1998.