"This is good news because here's a program that has positively affected dental care access for North Carolina children," said Dr. Mahyar Mofidi, postdoctoral fellow at UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. "We already have programs such as Medicaid that, for one reason or another, have not been successful in helping children from low-income families receive dental care. This has been a huge problem, both in our state and across the nation."
Although the study was limited to North Carolina, he said the findings may apply to the 15 other states that have developed comparable programs. Children in states without such programs might not have fared as well.
A report on the research appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Besides Mofidi, the authors, all at the Sheps center, are Drs. Rebecca Slifkin, director of the Program on Health Care Economics and Finance; Victoria Freeman, senior fellow; and Pam Silberman, associate director for policy analysis.
In 1998, N.C. state lawmakers had the option to use federal funds to expand Medicaid enrollment or to create a separate health insurance program based on a private insurance model, Mofidi said. They chose the latter as an effort to improve access to general health services and to reduce disparities in health care, including dental care, for low-income families.
"This federal-state partnership -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP -- which in North Carolina is called N.C. Health Choice, has expanded health-care coverage to millions of children who come from working families with incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford pr
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill