Many Kids in Medicaid Have Untreated Tooth Decay, Report Finds
An estimated 6.5 million U.S. children ages two through 18 who are enrolled in Medicaid have untreated tooth decay, according to a report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, Reuters reports.
For the report, GAO analyzed two national surveys.
The report found that about one-third the 20 million child Medicaid beneficiaries had no dental care in the last 12 months, compared with more than half of children with private health insurance. The report states, "Children in Medicaid remain at higher risk of dental disease compared to children with private health insurance; children in Medicaid were almost twice as likely to have untreated tooth decay."
The report also states that about one in eight children enrolled in Medicaid never visits a dentist.
GAO estimates "that in 2005, 1.1 million children aged two through 18 in Medicaid had conditions that warranted seeing a dentist within two weeks. Compared to children who had private insurance, children in Medicaid were more than four times as likely to be in urgent need of dental care."
The report suggests that parents tried to get dental services for their children, but GAO estimates that "724,000 children aged two through 18 in Medicaid could not obtain needed care."GAO officials discussed the report at a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy hearing (Reuters, 9/23). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.