Estimating the Cost Savings of Preventive Dental Services Delivered to Medicaid-Enrolled Children in Six Southeastern States.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To quantify the impact of multiyear utilization of preventive dental services on downstream dental care utilization and expenditures for children.

DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING

We followed 0.93 million Medicaid-enrolled children who were 3-6 years old in 2005 from 2005 to 2011. We used Medicaid claims data of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

STUDY DESIGN

We clustered each state's study population into four groups based on utilization of topical fluoride and dental sealants before caries-related treatment using machine learning algorithms. We evaluated utilization rates and expenditures across the four groups and quantified cost savings of preventive care for different levels of penetration.

DATA EXTRACTION METHOD

We extracted all dental-related claims using CDT codes.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS

In all states, Medicaid expenditures were much lower for children who received topical fluoride and dental sealants before caries development than for all other children, with a per-member per-year difference ranging from $88 for Alabama to $156 for Mississippi.

CONCLUSIONS

The cost savings from topical fluoride and sealants across the six states ranged from $1.1M/year in Mississippi to $12.9M/year in Texas at a 10 percent penetration level. Preventive dental care for children not only improves oral health outcomes but is also cost saving.

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