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The Demand for Dental Care


  • Willard G. Manning Jr.
  • Charles E. Phelps


Inclusion of dental coverage in a number of National Health Insurance bills has raised questions about the determinants of demand for dental services, particularly, the sensitivity of demand to out-of-pocket cost. This paper relies on a 1970 national cross sectional survey of individuals to estimate demand for dental services. With full coverage (no out-of-pocket cost), the predicted number of visits is over twice as high for adults and over three times as high for children as are their demands with no dental insurance coverage. Full or partial coverage will increase considerably the demand for dental care, even if coverage is limited to children and if copayments and deductibles are imposed. With supply unaltered, the short-term effects of this excess demand will include some combination of price increases, increased queues, changes in the nature of the dental services performed, or other forms of nonprice rationing.

Suggested Citation

  • Willard G. Manning Jr. & Charles E. Phelps, 1979. "The Demand for Dental Care," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(2), pages 503-525, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:10:y:1979:i:autumn:p:503-525

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