On the local ballot this election season is a question that could potentially upend the dental industry nationwide. Question 2 would require insurers to dedicate a higher share of premiums toward patient care than they currently do.
As it stands, there is no minimum threshold for insurers, but this ballot question would force insurers to spend at least 83% of revenue from premiums on patient care or provide refunds. If the measure is approved by voters, states across the country would have a model for their own reform efforts.
The ballot question has been almost entirely funded by Mouhab Rizkallah, a local orthodontist, who has spent $1 million on the ballot initiative, according to campaign finance records and a Boston Globe report. His efforts have been backed by a number of local dentists and the American Dental Association, who say Question 2 will lead to a “more accountable and transparent” industry.
Rizkallah told the Globe that reforming the insurance industry will benefit patients. He called out the “wastefulness” of insurers and said the money would go “back to patient pockets” through decreased premiums and copays.
One of the biggest opponents of the ballot question is Delta Dental. The Boston-based insurer has spent $4.5 million on a campaign against the measure. Delta also told the Globe it was concerned about the cost to patients, warning that some insurers may raise premiums as a result.
“This question will increase costs for Massachusetts families and employers — a 38%-premium-increase in one recent independent study — and could result in thousands of people losing access to dental care,” said Louis Rizoli, a member of the Committee To Protect Public Access To Quality Dental Care. “With consumer prices soaring, we don’t need a new regulation that will increase costs and decrease choice.”
In response to this ballot question, Evan Horowitz, executive director of Tufts University’s Center for State Policy Analysis, did an analysis of the possible outcomes and found that this measure passing is unlikely to have a major impact on consumer costs, according to the Globe.
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