September 24, 2008

Tooth Decay In Children On Medicaid Rising

Approximately 6.5 million children involved in the Medicaid public health insurance program have advanced, untreated tooth decay, reports released on Wednesday said.

Merely a third of the 20 million kids supported by Medicaid had some dental care at all during the past year.

"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 Government Accountability Office reports..

The GAO was requested to research at the circumstances surrounding the issue after the passing away of Deamonte Driver in 2007, a 12-year-old Maryland Medicaid recipient. His mom could not locate a dentist to care for his tooth infection.

"Projected to 2005 enrollment levels, GAO estimates that 6.5 million children aged 2 through 18 in Medicaid had untreated tooth decay," the GOA report reads.

The GAO referred two national surveys taken for its predictions and accounted this information to the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee over domestic policy.

"Similarly, about one in eight children reportedly never sees a dentist. More than half of children with private health insurance, by contrast, had received dental care in the prior year," it adds.

The GAO anticipated that 5 percent of the children in Medicaid had pressing dental situations including tooth fractures, oral lesions and chronic pain.

"We estimate that in 2005, 1.1 million children aged 2 through 18 in Medicaid had conditions that warranted seeing a dentist within 2 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 accounts.

"Most children in Medicaid do not visit the dentist regularly," it added.

Medicaid is a combined federal and state program that offers health care programs for low-income, blind and disabled people.


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