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Eliminating Adult Dental Coverage in Medicaid: An Analysis of the Massachusetts Experience

This report examines the impact of Massachusetts eliminating coverage of most dental services for adults in its Medicaid program, MassHealth. The report findings include:

  • In FY2004, 100,000 fewer MassHealth adult enrollees received dental services reimbursed by MassHealth than in FY2001, the year prior to the reductions;
  • The number of private dentists actively treating MassHealth patients declined after the reductions, and dental directors at community health centers (CHCs) indicated that they did not have the capacity to deal with large numbers of new patients;
  • MassHealth enrollees and providers reported an increase in untreated dental problems and a reduction in corrective and restorative treatments for MassHealth enrollees;
  • MassHealth enrollees described living with pain, diminished self-esteem, and negative effects on employment and their families’ finances due to dental problems; and
  • The dental benefit reductions resulted in savings of less than one percent of the state’s share of total program spending, and it appears that some dental costs were shifted to other areas.

Report (.pdf)