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Changes in pediatric dental coverage and visits following the implementation of the affordable care act

Objective: To determine the impact of the inclusion of pediatric dental care in the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) core package of essential health benefits on dental coverage and utilization.

Data Sources: Children aged 118 years included in the nationally representative 20102015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Study Design: We used regressionadjusted differenceindifferences to examine changes in rates of dental coverage and visits pre and postACA for children likely to be affected by the ACA (have a parent working for a small employer) to a comparison group of children who were unlikely to be affected (have a parent in a firm with ≥50 employees). Models adjusted for relevant health and sociodemographic measures.

Data Collection: NHIS is an annual household survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Principal Findings: Comparing pre and postACA periods, private dental insurance increased by 4.6 percentage points more (P = 0.013) and annual dental visits were unchanged (2.7 percentage points, P = 0.071) among children likely to be affected by the ACA compared to children unlikely to be affected by the ACA.

Conclusion: Inclusion of pediatric dental care as an ACA essential health benefit increased dental insurance coverage, but not dental visits among children likely to be affected by this policy.

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