Question 2 could mean changes for your dental insurance

A ballot question initiated by a Somerville orthodontist will either result in better dental health for an estimated 25% of Massachusetts residents without dental insurance – or result in higher premiums and prompt employers to drop coverage for their workers.

Question 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot would “regulate dental insurance rates by requiring companies to spend at least 83% of premiums on member dental expenses and quality improvements instead of administrative expenses and by making other changes to dental insurance regulations.” Furthermore, insurers would be required to disclose where those premiums are being spent.

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One in four insured Mass residents don’t have dental coverage

Under state law, Massachusetts residents are required to have health insurance. The Massachusetts Health Insurance Survey found the 2021 uninsurance rate was 2.4%, compared to the national rate of 9.2%. Health insurers are required to allocate 88% of premiums to coverage. The proposed measure to amend dental insurance was designed as an effort to mirror of medical coverage for patients across the commonwealth. 

In contrast, a 2017 survey estimated one-in-four state residents who have health coverage lack any insurance for dental health. In Massachusetts, 16.6% of all residents reported an unmet need for dental care due to cost in 2019.

“Even though dental insurance is cheaper on a monthly basis, the number and types of claims that come in on a typical year don’t require the staff work that health care does,” said Chris Keohan, co-founder of Shawmut Strategies Group, which has worked in support of Question 2.

 “Health care is clearly much more complicated when it comes to testing and trying to actually try and find the problem and the different treatments. There’s a wide range of care. With dental, it’s pretty standard pricing across the board.”

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