BACKGROUND: Although Medicaid-enrolled children with a chronic condition (CC) may be less likely to use dental care because of factors related to their CC, dental utilization for this population is poorly understood.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the relationship between CC status and CC severity, respectively, on dental utilization for Iowa Medicaid-enrolled children.
RESEARCH DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study of Iowa Medicaid data (January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2006).
SUBJECTS: Medicaid-enrolled children aged 3 to 14 (N = 71,115) years.
MEASURES: The 3M Corporation Clinical Risk Grouping methods were used to assess CC status (no/yes) and CC severity (episodic/life-long/malignancy/complex). The outcome variable was any dental utilization in 2006. Secondary outcomes included use of diagnostic, preventive, routine restorative, or complex restorative dental care.
RESULTS: After adjusting for model covariates, Iowa Medicaid-enrolled children with a CC were significantly more likely to use each type of dental care except routine restorative care (P = 0.86) than those without a CC, although the differences in the odds were small (4%-6%). Compared with Medicaid-enrolled children with an episodic CC, children with a life-long CC were less likely to use routine restorative care (P < 0.0001), children with a malignancy were more likely to use complex restorative care (P < 0.03), and children with a complex CC were less likely to use each type of dental care except complex restorative care (P = 0.97).
CONCLUSIONS: There were differences in dental utilization for Iowa Medicaid-enrolled children by CC status and CC severity. Children with complex CCs were the least likely to use dental care. Future research efforts should seek to understand why subgroups of Medicaid-enrolled children with a CC exhibit lower dental utilization.