Health Policy

Utilization of dental services by Iowa Medicaid-enrolled children younger than 6 years old.

Kanellis, M.J.; Damiano, P.C.; Momany, E.T.
1997 Jul-Aug

Abstract

All Medicaid-enrolled children are eligible to receive dental care through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment Program (EPSDT). As part of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the EPSDT program in Iowa, Medicaid enrollment and claims files from fiscal year (FY) 1994 were used to evaluate the utilization of dental services by Medicaid-enrolled children younger than age 6 during FY 1994. During FY 1994, 23% of Medicaid-enrolled children younger than age 6 received at least one dental service while enrolled in the Medicaid program. The total Medicaid-allowed charges for all dental services provided to this population while enrolled in Medicaid during FY 1994 was $1.53 million (the amount Medicaid would pay for the service, prior to calculating any copayments or other insurance charges). Although the EPSDT program in Iowa requires a referral of all Medicaid-enrolled children to a dentist at 1 year of age, fewer than 4% of enrolled children in this age group received any dental services. The percent of enrolled children receiving a dental exam during FY 1994, by age, was as follows: younger than 1 year, 0.2%; age 1, 3%; age 2, 10%; age 3, 27%; age 4, 46%; age 5, 54%. Utilization rates of dental services by Medicaid-enrolled children in Iowa fall far short of federal regulations, which currently require that 80% of enrollees receive EPSDT screenings, referrals, and treatment by age 3.