Objective Having medical insurance with or without coverage for dental care has been shown to be associated with an increase in dental use. The purpose of this study is to provide information that will help describe this behavior. Method We isolate the independent effect of health insurance on the likelihood of a dental visit by analyzing Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data. Results Data show that persons with private medical coverage, controlling for dental coverage and other socioeconomic and demographic factors, are more likely to have a dental visit than persons without private medical coverage. Having medical insurance with or without coverage for dental care is associated with an increased likelihood of having a dental visit. These data suggest a more complex role for dental insurance beyond that of traditional insurance motivation. Conclusions These data suggest that programmes designed to improve dental access with added dental coverage may not be sufficient to remedy access deficiencies and may offer only modest extra incentives to use dental services over and above medical insurance. Key words: Coverage, dental, dentistry, insurance, utilization
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