Friday, July 21, 2006

SCHIP Program Boosts Kids' Dental Care

WEDNESDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) has helped reduce financial barriers to dental care for American children in low-income families and increased their use of dental services, a new study finds.

Researchers from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assessed the impact of SCHIP on the use of dental care and unmet dental needs by analyzing six years of data (1997 to 2002) from the annual National Health Interview Survey.

The study included information from 29,000 children, 2 to 17 years old. Some of the children had been interviewed before SCHIP was implemented and other children had been interviewed after the start of the program. This enabled the researchers to assess access to dental care before and after the establishment of SCHIP.

Compared to children with no health insurance, children enrolled in SCHIP were 21.2 percent less likely to report unmet dental needs and 49.5 percent more likely to have visited a dentist in the six months before they were interviewed.

The findings demonstrate that SCHIP, which was introduced in 1997, has had a measurable effect on access to dental care for low-income children, the study authors concluded.
Researchers presented the study Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research in Orlando.

More information
The Academy of General Dentistry has more about children's access to dental care.

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