Project ENGAGE is being funded with a $1 million grant from United Health Foundation and another $750,000 from UnitedHealthcare. Temple University will work together to create the registry and coordinate the interventions to families, with assistance from UnitedHealthcare.“The neighborhoods served by Project ENGAGE have the highest cost-of-care for children’s dental care in Pennsylvania, in part because the parents of these children tend to seek dental care only when it’s an emergency and then seek that care at a hospital, which can be expensive,” Ismail said. “We need to shift the dental care from when the children have a problem to before the problem starts.” The program will also provide training for primary care physicians to encourage preventive screenings and to apply dental varnish, while also giving general dentists who do not currently provide dental care for very young children the support and information needed to care for children. Studies show that children should begin seeing a dentist before their first birthday. In many cases, dental referrals for young children come through primary care physicians, helping to catch diseases early and perhaps avoid a lifetime of dental disease and other health issues. “By combining Temple University’s clinical expertise with UnitedHealthcare’s extensive claims information, we will promote oral health, expand access to care and reduce the prevalence of dental disease,” said Michael Weitzner, DMD, MS, vice president, UnitedHealthcare Dental. “We have the unique opportunity to enhance the health delivery system and improve health outcomes for thousands of children in Pennsylvania.” Project ENGAGE builds on the success of other oral health initiatives created by UnitedHealthcare for Medicaid plans. In New York, New Jersey and Mississippi, UnitedHealthcare organizes the Early Childhood Caries program, which encourages primary care physicians to perform oral health screenings on very young children. The program has helped enhance preventive care, with nearly 90 percent of children that were referred to a general dentist after a physician screening receiving preventive services such as a cleaning or fluoride treatment.
“United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support Project ENGAGE, which will serve as an important resource for improving the oral health of children and families,” said Kate Rubin, president of United Health Foundation.About UnitedHealthcare UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. About United Health Foundation Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $200 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org. Click here to subscribe to Mobile Alerts for UnitedHealth Group.