Improving access for Medicaid-insured children: focus on front-office personnel.

Journal of the American Dental Association (1939)

PubMedID: 10085659

Lam M, Riedy CA, Milgrom P. Improving access for Medicaid-insured children: focus on front-office personnel. J Am Dent Assoc. 1999;130(3):365-73.
Access to dental services for low-income children is limited. Front-office personnel play a role regarding dentists' participation in the Medicaid program.

Subjects (N = 24) represented general dental offices in Spokane County, Wash., and included participants and nonparticipants in the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry, or ABCD, program, a dental society/community program aimed at expanding dental services provided to Medicaid-insured children. The authors stratified the participants according to the number of claims their practices submitted to Medicaid for ABCD children: non-ABCD, low-ABCD and high-ABCD. Five two-hour focus group sessions were conducted to determine participants' beliefs about, attitudes toward and experiences in serving this population.

The authors' data analysis consisted of a comprehensive content review of participants' responses from transcripted audiotapes. They synthesized frequently mentioned concepts and ideas into relevant themes. The major factors affecting practices' participation in Medicaid were office policy on seeing Medicaid-insured patients; staff members' personal connection to Medicaid-insured patients; staff members' attitudes about Medicaid-insured patients; and staff members' perceptions of Medicaid-insured patients' barriers to care.

The data suggest that factors affecting dentists' participation in the Medicaid program are more complex than the often-stated dissatisfactions with low reimbursement fees and hassles with paperwork.

Efforts to increase dentist participation in serving Medicaid-insured patients will continue to be relatively ineffective until many of the concerns raised by this study's subjects are better understood and addressed.