To estimate the effect of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the frequency and payment source for Emergency Department (ED) visits for dental care.
Retrospective, quasi‐experimental study.
We used the State Emergency Department Database to compare changes in ED visit rates and payment source for dental conditions among patients from 33 states. These states represent four distinct policy environments, based on whether they expanded Medicaid and whether their Medicaid programs provide dental benefits. We first assessed the number of ED dental visits before (2012) and after (2014) the ACA. Then, we used differences‐in‐differences regression to estimate changes in insurance for dental visits by nonelderly adults.
Our sample contained 375 944 dental ED visits. In states that expanded Medicaid and offered dental coverage, dental ED visits decreased by 14.1 percent (from 19 443 to 16 709, for a net difference of 2734). By contrast, in the remaining three state groups, dental ED visits rose. Meanwhile, the expansion significantly increased Medicaid coverage and decreased the rate of self‐pay for ED dental visits.
Medicaid expansion, combined with adult dental coverage in Medicaid, was associated with a reduction in ED utilization for dental visits.
Data Sources/Study Setting