Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Prof. Tracey L. Gendron


One of the most important factors in accessing dental care is having dental insurance. For people with low incomes, Medicaid is the main source of health insurance. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. Adult dental services were mostly eliminated in Medi-Cal in 2009 due to the economic downturn and partially restored in 2014. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of change in Medi-Cal dental coverage, specifically the partial restoration of adult dental coverage in 2014, on dental care utilization among Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The partial restoration significantly increased the utilization rates in dental clinics from 2014 to 2017 (22% in 2017 vs. 12% in 2013) for the overall population. However, the magnitude of increase differs in different age groups and ethnic groups. More statistically significant findings show greater utilization rates among beneficiaries of 19-64 than 65-74 and 75+ years old. Also, more significant findings show lower utilization among Black than White, Hispanic or Asian beneficiaries. The partial restoration significantly reduced the dental related ER visits among Medi-Cal beneficiaries from 2015 to 2017. However, the reduction is largely seen in beneficiaries of 19-64 years old in the ethnic groups of White and Black with reductions of 20 and 15 visits per 1,000 enrollees respectively in 2017 comparing to 2013. The dental related ER visits were lower for Hispanics and Asians, and remained very low among those 65 years old and above. In addition, the partial restoration resulted in increases in participation of dental care providers in the Medi-Cal program.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission