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Community Dent Health. 2007 Dec;24(4):205-12.

Dental care use: does dental insurance truly make a difference in the US?

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  • 1Division of Health Services Research, Department of Health Promotion and Policy, Dental School, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201, USA.



Having medical insurance with or without coverage for dental care has been shown to be associated with an increase in dental use. The purpose of this study is to provide information that will help describe this behavior.


We isolate the independent effect of health insurance on the likelihood of a dental visit by analyzing Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data.


Data show that persons with private medical coverage, controlling for dental coverage and other socioeconomic and demographic factors, are more likely to have a dental visit than persons without private medical coverage. Having medical insurance with or without coverage for dental care is associated with an increased likelihood of having a dental visit. These data suggest a more complex role for dental insurance beyond that of traditional insurance motivation.


These data suggest that programmes designed to improve dental access with added dental coverage may not be sufficient to remedy access deficiencies and may offer only modest extra incentives to use dental services over and above medical insurance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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