Opportunities in Health Care Reform: Addressing the Oral Health of Children with Special Health Care Needs
There are approximately 10.2 million children under 18 who are considered to have a special health care need. These children account for 42 percent of all pediatric medical expenditures in the United States. Over 10 percent or three-quarters of a million children with special health care needs continue to experience critical gaps in their access to continuous health care coverage and services in the U.S., with dental care being one of the largest gaps they face.
Families of children with special health care needs face significant issues gaining access to preventive and restorative dental services. Children with special health care needs are nearly three times more likely to have unmet dental care needs than medical needs. Family income and severity of medical condition are significant predictors of unmet dental need. Low-income children with special health care needs with severe conditions are over 13 times more likely to have unmet dental needs.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacts a number of reforms to the health care system, including several that directly relate to oral health. This policy brief, provides a closer look at the implications of those ACA dental provisions and the specific opportunities to address the oral health of children with special health care needs.