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The Massachusetts Dental Society Endorses Achieving Patient-Centered Dental Insurance Reform Through Referendum

June 13, 2022 The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) Board of Trustees has endorsed achieving its long-sought goal of reforming dental insurance Medical Loss Ratios (MLRs) through the question on track to appear on the statewide ballot in November. The referendum will ensure MLRs apply to dental plans in the same way they currently apply to medical plans. This ballot initiative would make dental providers more transparent and accountable to the patients they serve.

Massachusetts law establishes an 88% medical loss ratio for medical insurance plans. Nationally, the Affordable Care Act requires medical insurance plans to minimally operate at an 85% MLR for larger carriers and 80% MLR for smaller providers. However, there is currently no medical loss ratio for dental insurers.

The referendum would:

  • Set the medical loss ratio for dental plans at 83%, requiring insurers to refund any excess premium to customers
  • Require dental benefit providers to disclose projected medical loss ratio for plans, file the following year’s group product base rates by July, and release other specified financial information
  • Allow the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to approve or disapprove of any product rates

“As an advocate for both regular and affordable dental care for all Massachusetts residents, the MDS endorses the Massachusetts Medical Loss Ratios for Dental Insurance Plans Initiative and encourages Massachusetts residents to pass it in November,” said Dr. Meredith Bailey, President of the Massachusetts Dental Society. “Patient dollars should be required to be spent in support of their oral health, and patients deserve visibility into how much of their dental insurance premiums are paying for care as opposed to administrative costs.

We are pleased to have the support of the American Dental Association (ADA), which is supporting passage of November’s referendum.

Several other states have already enacted laws to requiring dental insurers to file annual MLR reports. California is one such state. Using data from these reports, the California Dental Association found that the state’s dental plans average an MLR of 76%, significantly below medical plan rates.

For years, the MDS has worked to reform MLRs legislatively. While we continue to work with legislators and dental insurance providers to find common ground, we’re also realistic that November’s ballot measure is finally a chance to achieve the necessary change. Like medical patients, dental patients deserve to have their premium dollars spent on patient care.

Update June 15, 2022: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has approved the November ballot measure reforming dental insurance Medical Loss Ratios (MLRs). The referendum will ensure MLRs apply to dental plans in the same way they currently apply to medical plans. This ballot initiative would make dental providers more transparent and accountable to the patients they serve.

Learn more about the Medical Loss Ratios Ballot Initiative.

 

About the Massachusetts Dental Society

The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) is a professional association representing 5,000-plus member dentists and a statewide constituent of the American Dental Association. It is dedicated to the professional development of its members through initiatives in education, advocacy, and the advancement of top-quality professional standards. The MDS is also a champion for oral health care across the Commonwealth. For more information, visit www.massdental.org