Cost-Savings of Fluoride Varnish Application in Primary Care for Medicaid-Enrolled Children in Virginia


Systems and Industrial Engineering

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Objectives To determine the cost-benefit of fluoride varnish application during pediatric well-visits for the Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program population in Virginia (VA) from a Medicaid payer perspective. To provide initial cost estimates from the primary care provider (PCP) perspective. Study design A systematic search of recent literature was completed to obtain input data for a Monte Carlo cost-benefit simulation and for the fluoride varnish application time, labor, and materials costs for PCPs. The analysis was conducted from a Medicaid perspective; costs and savings related to fluoride varnish application in primary dentition through 7.5 years were calculated for all Medicaid-eligible children up to 3 years of age in VA. Sensitivity analysis was performed to mitigate the effects of parameter uncertainty. Results Delivering fluoride varnish to all children <3 years old in VA who annually receive well-visits through Medicaid but did not receive fluoride varnish at those visits would reduce the percent of 7.5 year olds with decay from 63.2% to 39.8%. Accounting for averted restoration cost, PCP fluoride varnish application would save $75.32 per child, or a total population savings of almost $2 million/year for VA Medicaid. From the PCP perspective, the Medicaid reimbursement rate for fluoride varnish is 3.8-12.0 times the direct fluoride varnish application cost (labor and materials). Conclusions Application of fluoride varnish by a PCP to children under 3 years of age is cost-saving in this study population. Costs to provide fluoride varnish from the PCP perspective are favorable compared with the Medicaid reimbursement, but additional studies on optimizing fluoride varnish application into the well-visit workflow are needed.

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Journal of Pediatrics

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