Policy

Massachusetts is the first state in the country to mandate consumers to protect their teeth.

People fill out their ballot papers at Cathedral High School in Boston, Massachusetts on November 8, 2022. Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

Massachusetts voters passed question 2, making the state the first in the country to introduce a unified “medical loss rate” rule for dental insurance.

The Associated Press announced the race early Wednesday morning, with “Yes” to 71.3% of the vote.

The Yes on Massachusetts Question 2 campaign announced victory around 10:45 PM Tuesday night.

“Together, we put patients first over profits. We thank Massachusetts voters and our more than 5,000 MDS member dentists who have worked hard to communicate the commitment of their communities, as well as all individuals and organizations in the community and across the country who have provided support to help make this measure possible. ” Meredith Bailey, DMD, president of the Massachusetts Dental Society, said in statement.

The measure will create new rules for dental insurance, in particular requiring insurance companies to spend at least 83% – 83 cents of every dollar – of patient contributions. The remaining 17 cents of every dollar can go towards administrative expenses. Insurers who fail to meet this percentage will have to grant patients rebates.

Similar loss ratios are already used in health insurance. At the national level, there are insurers required under the Affordable Price Act spend at least 80 percent or 85 percent of the premium on medical care. Medical insurers in Massachusetts must spend 85 or 88 percent premium dollars for care.

The measures will also require dental insurers to send you information on “current and projected medical loss rates, administrative costs and other financial information” every year.

Proponents of this question argued that insured patients would pay less dental fees and receive more protection. Mouhab Rizkallah, a Somerville dentist who initiated the voting question, told Boston.com that Question 2 “redirects an enormous waste and misappropriation of patient contributions back to patients.” The measure was supported by both the Massachusetts Dental Society and the American Dental Association.

The answer to this question was mainly about the fear of rising dental costs and the potential loss of dental care for some residents. But experts such as Evan Horowitz, executive director of the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, told Boston.com that the measures won’t make much difference for patients.

“This is not the kind of voting questions that will change dental care as we know it,” said Horowitz, who conducted an analysis of the voting question last month. “It won’t drive dental insurers out of state, it won’t radically change premium prices, or make care more affordable. This may make the price you pay to the dentist a bit higher, but it may not even be noticeable. Not that much. “

The measures contained in question 2 will enter into force in 2024. Until then, there is no minimum threshold for the proportion of contributions that dental insurers have to direct for patient care.

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