Mass. voters pass Question 2, setting new guidelines on dental insurance

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Massachusetts voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a law that would require dental insurers to spend a certain portion of the premiums they collect on customers’ dental expenses and on quality improvements, as opposed to using the funds for administrative expenses.

The law, which previously passed the state legislature, came before voters as Question 2 on their ballots in Tuesday’s elections. “Yes” votes were in favor of the new regulations; “No” votes support making no change to state laws.

By more than 50% of the votes counted Tuesday night, the Associated Press declared that the ballot initiative had passed. By midnight, “yes” votes led by more than 40 points.

Proponents argued the measure would bring the dental insurance industry into line with requirements already placed on medical insurance companies. The Committee on Dental Insurance Quality, an advocacy group, said the law would prevent corporate waste from insurance executives, citing state tax filings from Delta Dental, which they said showed the company paid top employees and affiliates $382 million in 2019, up from $177 million spent on patient care.

The new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2024, will oblige dental insurance companies to put at least 83% of the money they collect from premiums into either customer expenses or improvements in the quality of services. Companies that fail to do so will be required to refund excess premiums to customers.

Voters rejected opponents’ argument that the new law would result in higher premiums and thousands of people losing access to dental insurance. The law’s advocates called these allegations false.

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