July 2013

Dental Services for Children and Parents in the HUSKY Program: Utilization Continues to Increase Since Program Improvements in 2008

Mary Alice Lee, Ph.D., Kenny Feder, and Amanda Learned (MAXIMUS, Inc.)

Connecticut’s multi-faceted approach to expanding access to oral health care in the HUSKY health insurance program continues to have measurable and positive effects on access to care and utilization for children and parents.  The number and percentage of children and parents who received dental services in 2011 increased for the third consecutive year since program reforms were implemented in 2008.   These reforms included increased provider reimbursements and structural changes to the way dental benefits are administered and reimbursed.

Among the key findings of this research report on use of dental care services among children and parents enrolled in HUSKY:

  • The number of very young children under 3 who received any dental care in 2011 nearly doubled and the percent with preventive care (37%) was nearly three times higher than rates for 2008.
  • The number and percent of children 3 to 19 with preventive care increased in HUSKY A (Medicaid) and HUSKY B (Children’s Health Insurance Program), to 69% and 73% respectively.
  • Just 37 percent of parents received preventive care, up from the previous year, but considerably less than the 2011 rate for children in HUSKY A.
  • Differences associated with race and ethnicity persist:  Hispanics were most likely and Blacks/African Americans were least likely to have received preventive care.  

The program is clearly headed in the right direction in terms of expanding access to oral health care for children and parents in the HUSKY Program.  Moreover, parents of children in HUSKY will continue to have access to dental care, despite threats to eligibility for HUSKY parent coverage during state budget negotiations.  This report recommends ongoing monitoring of the use of dental care and special studies of differences in access to care and utilization among racial/ethnic and age groups.

Issue Area:
Health