“It is ridiculous that people don’t have affordable access to dental care in this day and age.”
Boston.com readers want Massachusetts to vote yes on a major reform to the dental insurance industry. Question 2 on the ballot this election year is a measure that would force dental insurers to spend a higher share of premiums (at least 83%) on patient care. Of the 274 readers who responded to our poll about the ballot question, 78% said they’ll be voting yes.
If the ballot measure passes, insurers will have to spend at least 83 cents of every dollar collected through premiums on patient care, and use the rest for administrative costs. There is currently no minimum threshold for insurers, something supporters believe has come at the expense of patients.
“It is ridiculous that people don’t have affordable access to dental care in this day and age. I would also argue any insurance company paying out bonuses to executives cares more for profit than providing care that the consumers already pay for,” Cait C. from Westwood told Boston.com. “I also think these policies have a negative impact on already disadvantaged socioeconomic communities.”
Mouhab Rizkallah, a Somerville dentist who started and largely funded the ballot question, told Boston.com that Question 2 “redirects the enormous waste and misappropriation of patient premium funds back to patients.”
The most outspoken opponents to this ballot question are insurers like Delta Dental, who have warned that patient costs could actually increase as a result of this ballot question.
Evan Horowitz, executive director of Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis, did an analysis of the possible outcomes of this measure and said patients shouldn’t be overly concerned with costly changes to their insurance.
“I don’t think you should expect major changes from this ballot question. It is not the kind of ballot question that will transform dental care as we know it. It’s not going to drive dental insurers out of state, it’s not going to dramatically change the price of premiums, it’s not going to make care more affordable. It may make the price that you pay at the dentist a little bit higher, but maybe not even a noticeable amount,” he said.
“This is more of an internal struggle between regulators, dentists, and insurance companies about the best way to distribute profits in dental insurance,” Horowitz told Boston.com.
Some readers said they worry insurers to try to offset their own costs if the measure passes, but most are still planning to vote yes on Question 2.
“It may be a catch-22. Forcing a greater portion of the revenue collected from patients (us) into covering costs to patients is good, but will they raise rates to cover their existing costs?” John from Shrewsbury asked. “On the whole, this should be good to make insurance carriers more accountable and cut some waste. Any large insurance group against this is a telling sign.”
Some entries may be edited for length and clarity.
Do you think dental insurers should have to spend a higher share of premiums on patient care?
“Isn’t that what the insurance is about — patient care? What good is the insurance if patients are not getting good patient care, and the premium goes to the insurance company?” — Diane, Arlington
“I support this! Currently, I pay a premium through my employer. My cleanings are covered but if I need a filling or something else it’s all out of pocket which is difficult. Even if the premium was higher it would be worth it for more service with less out-of-pocket cost.” — Derek M., Taunton
“Dental health is health. Not only should a higher percentage go to patients, but all non-cosmetic work should be covered as all other medical procedures are covered by standard health insurance. The industry is set up now in a way that makes dental care seem like a luxury.” — Nick P., Hanover
“Even with insurance when you need to get something done, it costs hundreds even thousands of dollars. It’s just not affordable.” — Lynne, Boston
“It makes sense so patients can get better dental care. Top execs at Delta Dental get paid plush salaries, [give] that money back to patients!” — Mimi C., Allston
“The medical insurance companies are setting record profit margins and we get less and less. This is something that maybe we should look at for regular health care too.” — Barton S., Pepperell
“These companies provide minimal coverage. No one brought up the profits they made during the pandemic. No dental services! Offices closed. While my auto insurance company sent me a check because we were driving less, nothing from my dental plan, Metlife. No cleanings or care for more than one year.” — Cynthia, Rockport
“If you raise the insurance company’s costs, they will just pass it on to the customer. That will certainly result in increased premium costs.” — Mary P., Northborough
“Dentists also have a vested interest in trying to get the coverage increased so they can charge even more when they already charge a ton. It’s not surprising to see dentists pushing for this.” — Stephen, Boston
“No need for additional regulation, [they’re] too many regulations on companies already.” — Sarah H., Chelmsford
“I trust the free market to resolve that. People don’t have to have dental insurance. Why regulate something that people don’t need to have?” — Michael, Winchester
“As soon as the government starts telling companies what to do, it’s the consumer who will always lose. Every. Single. Time. If a company doesn’t make money one way, it will be made another.” — Amy, Dracut
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinions.
By Zipporah Osei
October 26, 2022