The cost-effectiveness of three interventions for providing preventive services to low-income children

Ben Johnson, Nicoleta Serban, Paul M. Griffin, Scott L. Tomar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: We evaluated the impact of loan repayment programmes, revising Medicaid fee-for-service rates, and changing dental hygienist supervision requirements on access to preventive dental care for children in Georgia. Methods: We estimated cost savings from the three interventions of preventive care for young children after netting out the intervention cost. We used a regression model to evaluate the impact of changing the Medicaid reimbursement rates. The impact of supervision was evaluated by comparing general and direct supervision in school-based dental sealant programmes. Results: Federal loan repayments to dentists and school-based sealant programmes (SBSPs) had lower intervention costs (with higher potential cost savings) than raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate. General supervision had costs 56% lower than direct supervision of dental hygienists for implementing a SBSP. Raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate by 10 percentage points would improve utilization by <1% and cost over $38 million. Given one parameter set, SBSPs could serve over 27 000 children with an intervention cost between $500 000 and $1.3 million with a potential cost saving of $1.1 million. Loan repayment could serve almost 13 000 children for a cost of $400 000 and a potential cost saving of $176 000. Conclusions: The three interventions all improved met need for preventive dental care. Raising the reimbursement rate alone would marginally affect utilization of Medicaid services but would not substantially increase acceptance of Medicaid by providers. Both loan repayment programmes and amending supervision requirements are potentially cost-saving interventions. Loan repayment programmes provide complete care to targeted areas, while amending supervision requirements of dental hygienists could provide preventive care across the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-528
Number of pages7
JournalCommunity Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Dentistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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