The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a partnership program between the federal and state governments that provides comprehensive health care coverage to uninsured children from financially-challenged families (Ubokudom, 2012). The program insures children from families whose earnings are insufficient to afford private coverage and too high to qualify for Medicaid. The benefits of the programs vary from state to state. However, all states offer certain services such well-child care, prescriptions, vision and dental care, hospitalization, preventive care, and emergency services. The administration of the program’s benefits is based on the guidelines provided by the federal government. Nonetheless, states have the mandate to formulate eligibility requirements and the type of services provided.
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Impact on Dental Care for Eligible Low-Income Children
The SCHIP program offers a wide range of dental benefits for eligible children. However, studies have shown that Medicaid is more comprehensive with regard to the benefits it offers. The SCHIP program has improved access to dental care for eligible low-income children (Ubokudom, 2012). The program also lowers the incidence of unmet dental care needs due to lack of insurance cover and high costs of dental care. The implementation of SCHIP among low-income children reduces financial barriers and increases the use of dental care (Paradise, 2014). The program increases access to dental care by offering a wide range of services. For instance, it has reduced the incidence of tooth decay among low-income children. In addition, the children are enjoying better dental health because the program provides important services that include oral exams, fluoride treatment, teeth cleaning, and bitewing x-rays (Ubokudom, 2012). Certain states cover extractions, endodontic, periodontic, prosthodontic, and orthodontic services. More children have access to dental care because many states utilize the managed care strategy of service delivery.
Effect of the Poor Economy on SCHIP and Dental Care
Government statistics show that SCHIP cost the federal government more than $40 billion in the first decade of the program’s implementation (Ubokudom, 2012). The program increased access to dental care for low-income children. Therefore, the poor economy increases financial pressure on SCHIP and creates the need for additional funding from the federal and state governments (Paradise, 2014). The poor economy also affects SCHIP negatively in case children drop out from the program. Children who drop out cost the states more money because their dental care deteriorates and as a result, they shift to emergency care that is provided frequently (Ubokudom, 2012). The main benefit of routine care is that it lowers the incidence of emergency situations that are more expensive compared to routine are.
The poor economy has both positive and negative effects on dental care. The main barrier to access to dental services is the lack of dental insurance. The Medicaid mitigated the problem. However, the remedy was partial because many low-income families were not eligible for Medicaid and could not afford private health insurance (Paradise, 2014). The SCHIP program allowed children from low-income families to get access to health insurance cover. Therefore, the poor economy improves dental care because more children can access dental care. The poor economy affects dental care negatively because in many cases, children drop out of SCHIP after losing insurance coverage (Paradise, 2014). In such cases, children continue living without coverage until dental problems arise.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program has been successful in offering insurance coverage to low-income children. It has stimulated several reforms in dental care delivery and improved access to dental care among low-income children. The number of children with dental diseases has decreased and dental health has improved significantly.
Ubokudom, S. E. (2012). United States health care policymaking: Ideological, social and cultural differences and major differences. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.
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