Washington—Declining access to private dental coverage over a decade through 2007 and variations in dental spending among the 10 largest states are reported in data sets developed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from annual household surveys.

Dental Coverage of Adults Ages 21 to 64, United States, 1997 and 2007, AHRQ statistical brief 295, reports that in 2007 as compared to 1997:

  • Poor adults were less likely to have private dental coverage and more likely to have no dental coverage.
  • Low- and middle-income adults were more likely to have public dental coverage only.
  • Adults without dental coverage were less likely to have a dental visit.

Dental Expenditures in the 10 Largest States, 2007, AHRQ statistical brief 299, reports that dental bills in California averaged $813 per patient, roughly a quarter more than the national average of $643. The AHRQ analysis found that:

  • Nationally, nearly half (49 percent) of the cost of dental care was paid out of pocket versus 16 percent for other types of health care.
  • Compared to the national average for dental expenses paid out of pocket, Florida and Ohio had higher and lower rates – 69 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
  • Insurance was a factor. Private insurance paid for only 27.5 percent of dental bills in Florida but 48.5 percent in Ohio. Portions not paid by private insurers or out-of-pocket were paid by Medicaid or other sources.
  • About 42 percent of all Americans incurred at least one dental care expenditure. Nationally, this varied from 31 percent of Texans to 54 percent of Michigan residents.

The data sets Dental Expenditures in the 10 Largest States, 2007 and Dental Coverage of Adults, 21 to 64, United States, 1997 and 2007 are based on the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, an annual household survey that provides information on health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the costs of services and how they are paid.