Dental Services for Children and Parents in the HUSKY Program in 2012: Utilization Is Improved Over 2008 but Unchanged from 2011

Back • Publication Date: August 22nd, 2014

Authors: Mary Alice Lee, Ph.D.and Kenneth Feder

Downloads: Download #1 Download #2

Connecticut’s approach to expanding access to oral health care in the HUSKY health insurance program has led to measurable positive effects on access to care and utilization for children and parents.

In 2008, the dental program was improved, with increased provider reimbursement and operational changes to the way dental benefits are administered and reimbursed. For the fourth consecutive year, the number and percentage of children and parents who received dental services in 2012 were significantly higher than in 2008 when program reforms were implemented.  Key findings for 2012:

  • Utilization trends:  The percentages of children under 3 and ages 3 to 19 who had preventive care, treatment, and sealants remained well above the utilization rates reported for 2008 (prior to program changes) but were largely unchanged  or less than rates for 2011.  The percentage of adults 21 and over in HUSKY A that had preventive care or treatment in 2012 remained well above the rates reported for 2008, but significantly lower than the rates reported for 2011.
  • Racial/ethnic disparities:  Differences associated with race and ethnicity persist.  Children of Hispanic origin were most likely to have received preventive care; the gap between rates for White and Black/African American children narrowed to where they are essentially equally likely to receive preventive care. Preventive care rates for White adults and Black/African American adults declined and the difference in the rates narrowed.  
  • Continuous health coverage:  In every age group, the longer children and adults in HUSKY A were enrolled, the more likely they were to have had preventive dental care and treatment. In fact, there was a 10-fold difference between those enrolled less than 3 months and those enrolled 11 to 12 months.

Since 2008, this program has been headed in the right direction in terms of expanding access to oral health care for children and parents in the HUSKY Program.  The lack of improvement in 2012, compared with 2011, suggests that additional strategies may be needed to reach the hardest-to-reach families.  Further improvements in dental utilization may depend on targeted initiatives and on keeping eligible children and their parents enrolled for long enough to link them with dental providers.