Availability of dental insurance coverage can reduce hospital healthcare costs associated with emergency department (ED) visits, surgeries, and hospital admission days, according to a study in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, published by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
The study analyzed hospital data over an 18-month period both before and after Medicaid patients in Illinois lost access to all dental coverage except for emergency adult dental services.
The average patient cost rose by 20 percent, and the total cost-of-care increased by 77 percent—or $1.6 million—at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago during the study period.
In addition, ED visits increased 48 percent, surgical interventions increased 100 percent, and hospital admission days increased 128 percent when patients lost comprehensive dental coverage. Patients who lost dental coverage also were more likely to have oral and maxillofacial surgery consults, incision and drainage procedures, and longer hospital stays.
The Impact of Patient Dental Insurance Coverage on Hospital Costs