Limitations in Access to Dental and Medical Specialty Care for Publicly Insured Children

Issue Brief

Limitations in Access to Dental and Medical Specialty Care for Publicly Insured Children

Karin V. Rhodes and Joanna Bisgaier

Medicaid and the state-run Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) cover about 42 million children, many of whom would not have access to care without public insurance. Federal law requires that this access be equivalent to that of privately insured children for covered services, and many states have implemented policies to improve longstanding disparities in primary and preventive care. Reimbursement rates are up, but significant disparities remain, especially for dental and specialty services. It is important to understand the distinct effect of provider-related barriers, because they are potentially more modifiable through health policy than patient-related ones. This Issue Brief summarizes research that directly measures the willingness of dental and medical providers to see publicly-insured children, using research assistants posing as mothers calling for an urgent appointment for their child.