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Massachusetts ballot questions 2022: Question 2 on dental insurance

Voters will decide on four ballot questions in the 2022 Massachusetts elections on Nov. 8. Here is what you need to know about Question 2, regarding dental insurance regulations.

What is this ballot question about?

Question 2 would require dental insurers to spend at least 83 percent of premiums on patient care rather than administrative costs. There is no minimum threshold currently imposed on the industry, and dental insurance tends to have more limited benefits. According to a study commissioned by the National Association of Dental Plans, the largest three Massachusetts insurers spend approximately 76 percent of their premiums on dental claims.

The ballot question also states that if insurers don’t spend enough to meet the threshold, they would have to return the money to Massachusetts consumers via rebates.

A yes vote would approve a proposed law regulating dental insurance rates, including by requiring companies to spend at least 83 percent of premiums on patient care.

A no vote would not make any changes.

Who is backing each side?

Dentists are backing the ballot measure, while dental insurance companies are opposed. The bulk of the money raised in support of Question 2 has come from the American Dental Association and orthodontist Mouhab Rizkallah, who has contributed well over $2 million. Delta Dental, the state’s largest dental carrier by membership, has funded most of the opposition.

What do those in favor say?

Supporters argue that dental insurance should have minimum requirements on how much to spend on patient care, similar to those already imposed on health insurance providers. Under state law, medical insurers in Massachusetts must spend 88 percent of the premiums they collect on patient care, and they’re required to include free annual physicals and other preventive care under the Affordable Care Act.

Backers of the ballot measure also point out that the proposed law requires insurers to seek approval from the Division of Insurance before raising premiums, which could prevent excessive premium hikes, they say.

What do those opposed say?

Those opposed to Question 2 say insurance premiums would rise as a result of the ballot measure. They say insurers would still have largely the same administrative costs they did before, but now would only be allowed to use 17 percent of the premium they collect to pay for it.

They also argue that while medical insurers are held to the type of thresholds included in the ballot question, their premiums are approximately 19 times higher than dental premiums, on average.

The Committee to Protect Access to Quality Dental Care, a group opposing the ballot, said it is likely that the market will consolidate, or that some carriers will leave Massachusetts.

Further reading

Will Question 2 improve dental insurance coverage or just raise costs? There are no easy answers.

Orthodontist vs. insurer: How Question 2 could bring sweeping changes to dental industry

Early voting in Massachusetts: What you need to know


Sahar Fatima can be reached at sahar.fatima@globe.com Follow her @sahar_fatima.