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BMC Oral Health

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Orthodontics -- Expenditures, Oral Health -- Health care


Background: Orthodontics prevent and treat facial, dental, and occlusal anomalies. Untreated orthodontic problems can lead to significant dental public health issues, making it important to understand expenditures for orthodontic treatment. This study examined orthodontic expenditures and trends in the United States over 2 decades. Methods: This study used data collected by the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine orthodontic expenditures in the United States from 1996 to 2016. Descriptive statistics for orthodontic expenditures were computed and graphed across various groups. Trends in orthodontic expenditures were adjusted to the 2016 United States dollar to account for inflation and deflation over time. Sampling weights were applied in estimating per capita and total expenditures to account for non-responses in population groups. Results: Total orthodontic expenditures in the United States almost doubled from $11.5 billion in 1996 to $19.9 billion in 2016 with the average orthodontic expenditure per person increasing from $42.69 in 1996 to $61.52 in 2016. Black individuals had the lowest per capita orthodontic visit expenditure at $30.35. Out-of-pocket expenses represented the highest total expenditure and although the amount of out-of-pocket expenses increased over the years, they decreased as a percentage of total expenditures. Public insurance increased the most over the study period but still accounted for the smallest percentage of expenditures. Over the course of the study, several annual decreases were interspersed with years of increased spending Conclusion: While government insurance expenditure increased over the study period, out of pocket expenditures remained the largest contributor. Annual decreases in expenditure associated with economic downturns and result from the reliance on out-of-pocket payments for orthodontic care. Differences in spending among groups suggest disparities in orthodontic care among the US population.


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