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ED dental care treatment raises access, cost issues for policymakers, Rutgers study finds
Date:4/1/2014

costs for visits. For example, residents of the Camden city region visited emergency departments for oral care at nearly nine times the rate of residents in the region that includes Union City, while average annual per person costs in the latter region were about one-twelfth of the cost as in the Atlantic City area.

Increases in dental insurance could potentially improve access to dental care, but there is no organized effort for such expansion, Lloyd noted. While New Jersey's decision to expand its Medicaid program, which includes dental coverage under the Affordable Care Act, is a step in the right direction, oral care is not an essential health benefit for adults under the ACA. "The lack of dental coverage will continue to prevent access to private dental care for large segments of the population," Lloyd said.

In addition to expanding off-hour and weekend access in low-income communities, the report by Lloyd; Joel Cantor, distinguished professor and center director; and Derek DeLia, an associate research professor, suggests other strategies. These include implementing emergency department diversion programs, such as referring patients to new urgent care clinics or strengthening hospitals' relationships with safety net providers.

Cecile Feldman, dean of the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, added, "Education on the importance of oral health and increasing awareness of available alternatives to the ED for oral care among vulnerable populations would further complement and enhance these strategies."

"Our findings are consistent with national data. Use of emergency departments for oral care in New Jersey is overwhelmingly an issue with young adults, especially those living in certain low-income areas," Lloyd said. She also noted that frequent users of emergency departments for oral care were more likely to be uninsured than emergency department users coming for other reasons and were also disproportionately covered by Medicaid
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Contact: Steve Manas
smanas@ucm.rutgers.edu
848-932-0559
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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