The MDS wants to ensure that dental benefits companies do not unfairly shift costs to patients and dental practices by setting fees for services for which they do not pay providers. An Act Relative to Financial Services Contracts for Dental Benefits Corporations adds Massachusetts to the rank of 30 states that have outlawed such practices.
The MDS has worked closely with the Legislature and MassHealth to expand access to care, most recently doubling the number of its members who participate in the MassHealth Program in just four years. The MDS supports ongoing efforts to increase access to dental care, but strongly opposes legislation creating an ADHP level of practice.
Patients have the right to choose where they receive dental care. Patients who choose to receive care from an out-of-network provider should not be required to be financially liable for payment while awaiting reimbursement from their dental benefits company. Instead, Massachusetts should join 23 other states in allowing patients to assign the benefits of their coverage directly to their providing dentist.
Companies offering dental benefits in Massachusetts should not be allowed to indefinitely hold others responsible for their administrative mistakes. Under current law, a benefits company is afforded an unlimited time period in which it may retroactively deny a paid claim. This effectively allows the dental benefits company to shift the losses associated with its own administrative mistakes onto the care provider.
Young children and persons with special health conditions have greater difficulty undergoing long dental procedures. For this reason, hospitalization and general anesthesia are often necessary for these patients to receive proper and safe dental treatment. Unfortunately, many of these patients are forced to delay, compromise, or forgo treatment because their families cannot afford hospital and anesthesia fees.
We owe it to our children to ensure that they have good oral health. Dental disease is the most common chronic childhood disease—five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Students receive physical examinations, required vaccinations, and vision and hearing tests. Children should also have a dental exam before entering the classroom to ensure a lifetime of good oral health.
The National Youth Sports Safety Foundation recorded that more than 5 million teeth are knocked out in sporting activities. The costs associated with treating sports-related oral injuries are staggering—replacing a single tooth and seeking follow-up care can cost up to $5,000. Yet only an estimated 7 percent of youth sports participants are required to wear mouthguards all or some of the time.