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Study Finds Medicaid Expansion Positively Affects Oral Health

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A University of Michigan study appearing in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry suggests dental coverage under Medicaid can improve the oral health of low-income individuals enrolled in the program. Using a survey and interviews to assess the impact of dental benefits provided through the expansion of Michigan’s Medicaid coverage, researchers found 60% of the 4090 individuals surveyed had visited a dentist at least once since enrolling in the expanded Healthy Michigan Plan. 

Among those who visited a dentist, 57% said their oral health had improved since enrolling. 

Most survey respondents had no health insurance coverage in the year prior to enrolling in the Healthy Michigan Plan. Additionally, half of the survey respondents worked for employers or were self-employed, but their incomes were low enough to qualify for the state’s plan. Among all respondents — with jobs or without — 40% stated their oral health had improved since they enrolled. 

These findings reinforce support for providing dental benefits to Medicaid beneficiaries, as the researchers suggest policymakers consider the importance of Medicaid dental coverage in reducing oral health disparities and improving the health and socioeconomic well‐being of low‐income individuals.

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