Lower-Income Families Still Spend More on Dental Care

Published 05/13/2024

CareQuest Institute’s latest analysis of dental care spending and income reveals that inequities in out-of-pocket expenditures between the poorest and wealthiest families in the US have continued to grow. In 2021, the most recent data available, poorer families paid 7.4 times more in out-of-pocket expenditures for dental care compared to high-income families.  

Additional Key Findings

  • In 2007, the poorest families paid 5.5 times more than the wealthiest families in out-of-pocket expenditures for dental care. By 2021, the poorest families paid 7.4 times more for dental care.
  • The percentage of individuals with at least one dental visit within the prior year was substantially lower among poorer households (~25%) than wealthier ones (~55%). 
  • When people from lower-income families can receive dental care, their households bear a disproportionate burden of out-of-pocket dental costs.  
  • Comprehensive Medicaid adult dental benefits in all states, increased dental provider participation in Medicaid, and support for safety-net providers serving low-income patients are just a few solutions that would make dental coverage and care more accessible and affordable for low-income families.

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