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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Dental Care for Publicly Insured Children (Health Affairs)

July 1, 2010

CHIS Journal Article

Authors: Nadereh Pourat, PhD, Len Finocchio

In this Health Affairs journal article, the authors use data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to examine disparities in the rate of visits to dental health professionals by children enrolled in both public and private insurance programs.

Among the findings: Children in Medicaid, especially Latinos and African Americans, experience high rates of tooth decay, yet they visit dentists less often than privately insured children. Even Latino and African American children with private insurance are less likely than white children to visit dentists and have longer intervals between dental visits. Furthermore, Latino and African American children in Medicaid are more likely than white children in Medicaid to have longer intervals between visits. These findings raise concerns about Medicaid's ability to address disparities in dental care access and, more broadly, in health care.

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