Expanding Dental Benefits Is Good for States.*

Published 09/14/2021

*Just Ask Colorado.

Colorado was one of the states that chose to expand Medicaid adult dental benefits under the Affordable Care Act. As of 2014, adults members could receive up to $1,000 annually toward the cost of dental services. In 2019, the cap was raised to $1,500. The new benefit covered procedures such as dental exams, crowns, partial dentures, and root canals.

A new report from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health describes a study of the impact of Medicaid expansion in Colorado, focused on one safety-net provider. Key findings include:

  • After expansion, the total number of adult Medicaid patients seen at the site increased by almost 350%.
  • Between 2013 and 2016, the site saw a 51% increase in tooth-saving procedures (e.g., restoration, endodontic and periodontal treatments) and a 22% decrease in extractions.
  • Tooth-saving procedures increased in all ethnicities and all ages above 21 years.

Overall, in Colorado, the dental community has embraced the adult Medicaid benefit, which has improved the oral health of patients who previously lacked adequate access to care.

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