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Dental School, AHRQ Release Study of Employers' Dental Insurance

A comprehensive analysis of state-by-state and nationwide dental insurance coverage--by 6.4 million employers--is available for the first time in a new study from the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The analysis of "very complicated" data is a valuable resource for health care reformers and other policymakers, dental coverage advocates, professional associations, lobbyists, companies, and practitioners, according to lead author Richard Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD, professor at the Dental School. "We asked about the relationships of medical and dental coverage to employers nationally and broke down the data into state statistics," said Manski.

Manski says that some of the findings were expected, including:
* larger firms as a whole and those in more populated areas offer more coverage;
* 56 percent of firms surveyed offered health insurance;
* 35 percent offered dental insurance;
* and, 63 percent of those offering health insurance also offered dental insurance coverage.

The study, "Characteristics of Employers Offering Dental Coverage in the United States," is published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (141(6): 700-711) by Manski and Philip Cooper, PhD, an AHRQ senior economist. The pair obtained data from the AHRQ 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component Private List, which is a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

However, other results were interesting as well, say the authors. They found that establishments offering dental insurance were more likely to employ more people, have more than one location, and tend to be older companies.

Detailed charts in the study paper break down data according to:
* Does an establishment offer its employees health and dental insurance? For example, the highest percentage of establishments offering both health and dental insurance was Alaska, 80.81 percent. The lowest was Vermont at 42.82 percent.
* What are the employers' locations? Industry? A range from agriculture to financial establishments.
* Is it for profit? A higher percentage of nonprofit establishments offer both health and dental than do for-profit establishments.
* How many employees are enrolled?
* How many years have they been in operation?
* Is the establishment part of a larger firm? What size?
* On work force characteristics, how many employees are females? How many are older than 50 years? How many are full time? What percentage are low wage earners? How many are employees in companies where at least half of the payroll were low wage.

As a senior professor and scholar at the Dental School, Manski also provides advice to AHRQ staff on issues related to measuring dental care expenditures and interpretation of dental health insurance benefits. The Dental School is one of six professional schools of the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

The AHRQ is an agency of U.S. Health and Human Services, which conducts and sponsors research to help clinicians, patients, health care institutions, health plan administrators, public policymakers, and others in making health care decisions.

Posting Date: 08/30/2010
Contact Name: Steve Berberich
Contact Phone: 410-706-0023
Contact Email: sberberich@umaryland.edu