To improve health, boost Medicaid dental reimbursement rates, by CHRT Fellow Dr. Romesh Nalliah

June 25, 2019 | Bridge Magazine

Dr. Nalliah calls for higher Medicaid dental reimbursementDental care is a vital component of overall health, yet it remains a challenge for many individuals, especially those who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare needs. Dr. Romesh Nalliah, a CHRT Fellow sheds light on the pressing issue of low Medicaid dental reimbursement rates and their impact on oral health outcomes. 

“Michigan’s outdated, 29-year-old Medicaid reimbursement rates are a vestige of a different time, and a significant factor in a structure that can encourage inefficient use of healthcare resources and result in costly, suboptimal dental care for many people.”


Dr. Romesh Nalliah

June 25th, 2019

We know that preventive dental care services are highly valued and sought after by consumers. Nevertheless, every year about 440,000 Americans covered by Medicaid end up in the Emergency Room with a dental complaint, costing Medicaid over $310 million annually. The average ER charge for a dental emergency is $760, the average charge for a dental examination, routine x-rays and cleaning is a little less than $235.

While research shows that there are far fewer medically-related hospital admissions for those who regularly receive preventive dental care, and that individuals having insurance are much more likely to seek preventive care and have better clinical outcomes, too few dentists participate in Medicaid to resolve this imbalance. So, despite overwhelming evidence that preventive dental care costs less and keeps patients healthier, the overreliance on costly, taxpayer-funded emergency room dental care continues nationally, and in Michigan.