OBJECTIVE: In 2004, Wisconsin Medicaid policy changed to allow medical care providers to be reimbursed for fluoride varnish treatment (FVT) to children’s teeth to improve access and utilization. To date, no study has been published on whether geographic and racial/ethnic variation in the provision of FVT in response to this policy change exists. This study’s objective is to examine the association of rates of FVT for children enrolled in Wisconsin Medicaid with race/ethnicity, urban influence codes (UIC), and dental health professional shortage area (DHPSA) designation based on county of residence.
METHODS: A retrospective, pre-post design was used based on FVT claims for children in the Wisconsin Medicaid program from 2002 to 2006. Poisson regression models were used to evaluate the association of rates of FVT claims with race/ ethnicity, UIC, and DHPSA designation.
RESULTS: The rate of FVT claims varied by resident county-type according to UIC and DHPSA designation, age, and race/ethnicity. Post-policy, the largest increases were observed for Native Americans residing in non-DHPSA counties, enrollees living in rural counties, and for Hispanics living in partial and entire DHPSA counties. African-Americans residing in partial DHPSA and metropolitan counties displayed the lowest rates of FVT claims.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall access and utilization of FVT increased, but substantial racial/ ethnic and geographic variation in the provision of FVT for children enrolled in Wisconsin Medicaid was observed. Future policies should incorporate measures that will specifically address the racial and geographic variations identified in this study.