Evaluation of the Dental Wellness Plan: Private Practice Dentist Experiences in the First Year

Reynolds, J.C.; Damiano, P.C.; McKernan, S.C.; Sukalski, J.M.C.; McInroy, B.; Kuthy, R.A.


The Dental Wellness Plan (DWP) is the dental insurance plan for members enrolled in the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan (IHAWP), Iowa’s version of the Medicaid expansion. It was enacted through bipartisan 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 to encourage preventive health care-seeking behaviors. Members earn additional covered services when they return for regular periodic recall exams. The aim of this study was to evaluate DWP providers’ experiences with the program, as well as all dentists’ perceptions of the DWP.

Surveys were administered to all licensed Iowa general dentists and dental specialists in private practice as of March 1, 2015 (n=1383), regardless of DWP participation. Dentists received a paper survey by mail in May 2015 and were given the option to complete the survey online. Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted to compare characteristics of dentists who were currently accepting new DWP patients (“DWP participants”) and those who were not accepting new DWP patients (“non-participants”). 558 Iowa private practice dentists responded to the survey for a 43% response rate after adjusting for those who were ineligible.