In what proponents consider a “decisive, landmark victory,” Massachusetts ballot Question 2 on dental insurance reform resoundingly passed, making the state the first in the country to introduce regulations on dental insurance companies that include a legal requirement that companies spend a minimum of 83% of premiums on patient care rather than on administrative expenses.
This type of percentage requirement—called a medical loss ratio (MLR)—is already in effect in Massachusetts for medical health insurance, and proponents of its dental counterpart have asserted it’s past time for dental insurance companies to also meet a similar standard to provide a minimum percentage of patient premium dollars on actual patient care.
The Associated Press called the race early Wednesday morning, with “Yes” at 71.3% of the vote. The yes vote was endorsed by both the ADA and the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS), which said the results indicated voters had “put patients first over profits.”
“Together, we put patients first over profits. We thank the voters of Massachusetts and our over 5,000 member dentists of the MDS who worked hard to inform and engage their communities, as well as all the individuals and organizations in the commonwealth and across the country who provided support to assist with this measure’s passage,” said Meredith Bailey, DMD, president of the MDS, in a statement.
Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, chief editor of Dental Economics, who practices in Massachusetts, says she was thrilled about Question 2: “No dental bill has ever gained traction in Massachusetts so this is great news for the profession.”
As a result of the “yes” vote, she said, “Patients will see increased reimbursements for dental care and dentists will see increased acceptance for care that patients could not previously afford or choose not to pay for. This will be good for the health of the people in Massachusetts.”
Dental practices “should see increased patient acceptance of treatment plans,” agreed Jill Tanzi, president of the Alliance of Independent Dentists in Massachusetts. “Many patients can’t afford treatments or copayments. This will increase acceptance of scaling and root planing, crowns, and other recommended procedures that patients can’t always afford.”
Other measures put into effect by Question 2 passing incude dental benefit companies being required to disclose projected MLR for dental plans, file the following year’s group product base rates by July, and release other specified financial information; and the commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance being authorized to approve or disapprove of any product rates.
The measures in Question 2 will go into effect in 2024.