Health Policy

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



The Dental Wellness Plan (DWP) provides dental benefits for members enrolled in the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan (IHAWP), Iowa’s version of the Medicaid expansion and was enacted through bi-partisan legislation to provide comprehensive health care coverage to low income adults. The DWP was implemented on May 1, 2014, and is administered by Delta Dental of Iowa (DDLA) as a fee-for-service plan with the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME) making capitated payments to DDLA for administration of the plan. It has a unique earned benefits structure aimed at encouraging preventive health care-seeking behaviors. Enrollees earn additional covered services when they return for regular periodic recall exams every 6-12 months.

This is an interim report for the DWP evaluation performed by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center. It evaluates the DWP members’ experiences with the program and to make comparison with Medicaid members’ experiences. The evaluation strategy deployed is designed to maximize the use of outcome measures derived through administrative data manipulation using nationally recognized protocols, and assess the effectiveness of the DWP program through surveys conducted in March and May 2015 addressing the following areas of concerns:

Access to care – What are effects of DWP on member access to care?

Quality of care – What are effects of the DWP on member quality of care?

Cost – What are effects of the DWP on costs of dental care as compared to traditional Medicaid dental coverage

Earned benefit structure- What are the effects of the earned benefit structure on DWP members?

Provider network adequacy – What is the adequacy of the provider network for S+DWP members?

Provider attitude – What are provider attitudes towards the DWP?

Member outreach - What are the effects of DWP member outreach and referral services?

The DWP evaluation provides a unique opportunity to optimize several sources of data to assess the effects of the innovative benefit structure and provider incentives. Results are presented in the order found in the original evaluation plan, which allows the reader to easily find specific hypotheses and measures. For some, complete results are presented, including any variation that was required in the type of analysis from what was originally proposed. For others, there is an indication of the type of analysis that will be completed for the final report for June 2017. There are some other measures for which, after a more thorough assessment of the available data, are not appropriate and this is indicated with the measure.


Dental Wellness Plan, DWP, IHAWP, dental health services, Iowa

Total Pages

45 pages


At head of title: Interim report.


Copyright © 2016 the authors