Study explores barriers to dental care among Medicaid-enrolled reproductive-aged women

In a new study, only 47% of women had a dental visit during pregnancy. Medicaid-enrolled women in Virginia were half as likely to visit the dentist during pregnancy than women with private insurance, despite the availability of Medicaid Pregnancy Dental coverage, according to the study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Women's Health.

Shillpa Naavaal, MPH, School of Dentistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, and colleagues, coauthored the study, which explored differences in pregnancy-related oral health knowledge and barriers to dental care among reproductive-aged women by health insurance type. The study also estimated the awareness of the available Medicaid Pregnancy Dental coverage among Medicaid-enrolled women. The investigators found that one in three reproductive-aged women enrolled in Medicaid were unaware of the available pregnancy dental coverage in Virginia.

"Medicaid-enrolled and uninsured women experience barriers to accessing oral health during pregnancy at a much higher rate compared to those with private insurance," concluded the investigators. "This study's findings are timely and valuable as Virginia plans to expand comprehensive dental coverage to all Medicaid-enrolled adults beginning July 2021."

The authors found that almost 40% of Medicaid-enrolled women did not know that pregnancy is a period of higher risk for oral health problems. It is important to increase awareness of Medicaid Pregnancy Dental coverage and reduce barriers to dental care for reproductive-aged women."

Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Journal of Women's Health Editor-in-Chief, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA

Source:
Journal reference:

Naavaal, S., et al. (2021) Oral Health Knowledge, Barriers to Dental Care, and Awareness of a Medicaid Pregnancy Dental Coverage Among Reproductive-Age Women. Journal of Women's Health. doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2021.0252.

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