Dental insurance, income and the use of dental care in Canada.
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Using recent Canadian health survey data, we investigated the effect of socioeconomic status on patients' use of dental services and dental insurance coverage. Our results point to an important socioeconomic gradient in the use of dental services. The probability of receiving any dental care over the course of a year increases markedly with dental insurance, household income, and level of education. Among those receiving at least some dental care, however, a person's general oral health--not financial factors--largely determined visit frequency. The insurance effect appears to operate through a reduction in price paid at point of service, not decisions by those with high anticipated need for dental care to selectively purchase insurance. Indeed, those with poorer self-assessed oral health, as well as those from Quebec (where dental benefits are subject to personal income tax) and those over 65 years of age (who have likely lost employer provided coverage) were less likely to be insured.
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