Uninsured Persons Record Big Increase in Dental Visits;

May 9, 2003
Depsite this increase, people without insurance still lag far behind those are insured.

Uninsured people recorded a double-digit increase in visits to
the dentist, but the improvement still left them far behind the percentage of those seeing a dentist with private dental insurance, according to a study in this month's Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).

The study covered data from the National Health Interview Surveys for two years, 1989 and 1999.

The JADA study revealed that people with private dental insurance visited a dentist more often than those without private dental insurance in both 1989 and 1999. Among the insured, the percentage reporting a visit rose to 75.2 percent in 1999, up 5 percent from 71.4 percent in 1989. However, the increase among those without dental insurance jumped to 58.1 percent in 1999
from 1987's 47.6 percent, an increase of 22 percent.

"Overall the percentage of the population with a dental visit rose to 64.1 percent in 1999 from 57.2 percent in 1989," says lead-author Thomas P. Wall, M.A., M.BA, manager, Statistical Research, Health Policy Resource Center, American Dental Association.

Wall added that the overall percentage of individuals with private dental insurance dropped to 35.2 percent in 1999 from 40.5 percent in 1989.

But there was an unexpected increase in the percentage with private dental insurance among those living below the poverty line, to 23.4 percent in 1999 from l989's 21.9 percent.

From their analyses, the authors also found that disparities between blacks and whites in terms of dental visits and private dental insurance were smaller in 1999 than in 1989. However, there was no reduction in gaps between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Among all racial and ethnic groups examined, Hispanics reported having the lowest levels of dental visits and
private dental insurance in 1999.

Note: Although this article appears in the Journal of the American Dental Association, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the American Dental Association.