The Massachusetts Dental Society and American Dental Association are urging dental providers and the voters of Massachusetts to support a November ballot initiative that will require dental insurance carriers to spend at least 83% of premium dollars on patient care rather than on administrative costs, salaries and profits. Carriers that do not meet this minimum standard would have to refund the difference to covered individuals and groups.
In a Sept. 15 email to members, ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., said the ADA has committed $5 million to the Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits campaign.
"The ADA is proud to join with the Massachusetts Dental Society to help support this measure, and we are asking for your support as well," Dr. Sabates said. "Please consider financially contributing to the campaign to support a 'yes' vote on Massachusetts Question 2. Why? Because if we win in Massachusetts, it will be a watershed moment for patients and dentistry, setting a precedent that could herald future change for dental insurance across the country.
"Dental insurance companies will oppose our efforts and try to scare voters. They may claim that by voting yes, dental insurance premiums will likely have to increase. Our campaign needs the resources to counter this negative messaging so the public realizes that voting 'yes' will hold the dental insurance companies accountable when it comes to the hard-earned dollars patients have paid in premiums."
"This issue has been a key focus of Massachusetts' advocacy efforts for years," added Meredith A. Bailey, D.M.D., MDS president. "The state's current approach to operate without a medical loss ratio for dental insurance is unfair to patients who deserve to have most of their premium dollars spent on the dental care they need. This ballot measure is finally a chance to achieve the necessary change."
The ballot initiative also calls for:
- Requiring dental benefit companies to disclose projected medical loss ratio for dental plans, file the following year's group product base rates by July, and release other specified financial information.
- Authorizing the commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to approve or disapprove of any product rates.
A medical loss ratio is already required in Massachusetts for major medical health insurance.
"Massachusetts medical insurers have been held to an 88% medical loss ratio standard since 2006. Meanwhile, there is still no standard at all for dental insurance in Massachusetts, or any state in the country," said Andrew S. Tonelli, D.M.D., co-chair, MDS Government Affairs Committee. "And while there are dental insurers in the state operating at [medical loss ratios] above the 83% threshold based on data provided by the National Association of Dental Plans, that same data shows that the vast majority are below, and some plans woefully below, that threshold. The subscribers in those plans are simply not getting reasonable value for their premiums. In truth, this type of reform is long past due and this time it will be decided directly by voters."
The ballot measure was initiated by a group of Massachusetts dentists, and the Massachusetts Dental Society Board of Trustees voted to endorse supporting the ballot question earlier this year.
"Organized dentistry will support any and all initiatives that benefit patients and providers," Dr. Tonelli said.
"I encourage everyone across the country who wants to see dental insurance companies held accountable for spending premium dollars collected on actual patient care to stand with us and financially contribute to this campaign here," Dr. Sabates said. "Your contribution to Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits can set the stage for dental insurance change one state at a time. Check out VoteYESon2ForDental.com for more information on the ballot measure.
"Every dollar contributed is important. All dentists, dental team members and patients are the beneficiaries of this initiative. We are a dental family standing together to protect and advocate for our patients," the all-member email concluded.
To contribute to the campaign or learn more about the ballot initiative, visit VoteYESon2ForDental.com or write to Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits at One International Place, Suite 1820, Boston, MA 02110. All correspondence should be sent to the attention of Thomas R. Kiley, treasurer.