Impacts of innovation in dental care delivery and payment in Medicaid managed care for children and adolescents

BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Jun 8;21(1):565. doi: 10.1186/s12913-021-06549-3.


Background: We evaluated a 14-county quality improvement program of care delivery and payment of a dental care organization for child and adolescent managed care Medicaid beneficiaries after 2 years of implementation.

Methods: Counties were randomly assigned to either the intervention (PREDICT) or control group. Using Medicaid administrative data, difference-in-difference regression models were used to estimate PREDICT intervention effects (formally, "average marginal effects") on dental care utilization and costs to Medicaid, controlling for patient and county characteristics.

Results: Average marginal effects of PREDICT on expected use and expected cost of services per patient (child or adolescent) per quarter were small and insignificant for most service categories. There were statistically significant effects of PREDICT (p < .05), though still small, for certain types of service: (1) Expected number of diagnostic services per patient-quarter increased by .009 units; (2) Expected number of sealants per patient-quarter increased by .003 units, and expected cost by $0.06; (3) Total expected cost per patient-quarter for all services increased by $0.64. These consistent positive effects of PREDICT on diagnostic and certain preventive services (i.e., sealants) were not accompanied by increases in more costly service types (i.e., restorations) or extractions.

Conclusion: The major hypothesis that primary dental care (selected preventive services and diagnostic services in general) would increase significantly over time in PREDICT counties relative to controls was supported. There were small but statistically significant, increases in differential use of diagnostic services and sealants. Total cost per beneficiary rose modestly, but restorative and dental costs did not. The findings suggest favorable developments within PREDICT counties in enhanced preventive and diagnostic procedures, while holding the line on expensive restorative and extraction procedures.

Keywords: Hub and spoke model; Innovation; Medicaid; Value-based payment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Dental Care for Children*
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Medicaid*
  • Preventive Health Services
  • Primary Health Care
  • United States