Explainer: Ballot question 2 may overhaul dental insurance

Regulation of Dental Insurance

Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 3, 2022?


This proposed law would direct the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance to approve or disapprove the rates of dental benefit plans and would require that a dental insurance carrier meet an annual aggregate medical loss ratio for its covered dental benefit plans of 83 percent. The medical loss ratio would measure the amount of premium dollars a dental insurance carrier spends on its members’ dental expenses and quality improvements, as opposed to administrative expenses. If a carrier’s annual aggregate medical loss ratio is less than 83 percent, the carrier would be required to refund the excess premiums to its covered individuals and groups. The proposed law would allow the Commissioner to waive or adjust the refunds only if it is determined that issuing refunds would result in financial impairment for the carrier.

The proposed law would apply to dental benefit plans regardless of whether they are issued directly by a carrier, through the connector, or through an intermediary. The proposed law would not apply to dental benefit plans issued, delivered, or renewed to a self-insured group or where the carrier is acting as a third-party administrator.

The proposed law would require the carriers offering dental benefit plans to submit information about their current and projected medical loss ratio, administrative expenses, and other financial information to the Commissioner. Each carrier would be required to submit an annual comprehensive financial statement to the Division of Insurance, itemized by market group size and line of business. A carrier that also provides administrative services to one or more self-insured groups would also be required to file an appendix to their annual financial statement with information about its self-insured business. The proposed law would impose a late penalty on a carrier that does not file its annual report on or before April 1.

The Division would be required to make the submitted data public, to issue an annual summary to certain legislative committees, and to exchange the data with the Health Policy Commission. The Commissioner would be required to adopt standards requiring the registration of persons or entities not otherwise licensed or registered by the Commissioner and criteria for the standardized reporting and uniform allocation methodologies among carriers.

The proposed law would allow the Commissioner to approve dental benefit policies for the purpose of being offered to individuals or groups. The Commissioner would be required to adopt regulations to determine eligibility criteria.

The proposed law would require carriers to file group product base rates and any changes to group rating factors that are to be effective on January 1 of each year on or before July 1 of the preceding year. The Commissioner would be required to disapprove any proposed changes to base rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unreasonable in relation to the benefits charged. The Commissioner would also be required to disapprove any change to group rating factors that is discriminatory or not actuarially sound.

The proposed law sets forth criteria that, if met, would require the Commissioner to presumptively disapprove a carrier’s rate, including if the aggregate medical loss ratio for all dental benefit plans offered by a carrier is less than 83 percent.

The proposed law would establish procedures to be followed if a proposed rate is presumptively disapproved or if the Commissioner disapproves a rate.

The proposed law would require the Division to hold a hearing if a carrier reports a risk-based capital ratio on a combined entity basis that exceeds 700 percent in its annual report.

The proposed law would require the Commissioner to promulgate regulations consistent with its provisions by October 1, 2023. The proposed law would apply to all dental benefit plans issued, made effective, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2024.


A YES VOTE would regulate dental insurance rates, including 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.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the law relative to the regulations that apply to dental insurance companies.

See full text of proposed law


As required by law, statements of fiscal consequences are written by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

The proposed measure has no discernible material fiscal consequences for state and municipal government finance.


As provided by law, the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

IN FAVOR: A YES vote expands consumer protection laws that already exist for medical insurance companies to dental insurance companies.

A YES vote ensures better coverage and value for patients, instead of unreasonable corporate waste.For example, according to its own 2019 Form 990, Delta Dental (in Massachusetts alone) paid executive bonuses, commissions, and payments to affiliates of $382 million, while only paying $177 million for patient care.

A YES vote would eliminate this inequity. Similar to medical insurance, this law would require dental insurance companies to allocate at least 83% of paid premiums to patient care, or refund premiums to patients to meet this standard.

Insurance companies will try to confuse voters by saying that dental insurance premiums will increase. This is false, because Section 2(d) of the law specifically disallows increases above the consumer price index without state approval.

Stop the corporate waste.

Vote YES for fair dental insurance.

Dr. Patricia Brown, DMD, MPH The Committee on Dental Insurance Quality30 College Ave Somerville, MA 02144(617) 437-7333 www.fairdentalinsurance.org

AGAINST: 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. With consumer prices soaring, we don’t need a new regulation that will increase costs and decrease choice.

There is no law like this ballot question anywhere in the nation. The Massachusetts Legislature actually repealed a similar law in 2011 because it proved overly burdensome and provided no real benefits for consumers. Federal lawmakers excluded it from Obamacare, and a special commission in Massachusetts reviewed and rejected a similar provision. Further, the state already requires reporting from dental plans.

Louis Rizoli Committee To Protect Public Access To Quality Dental Care120 Arcadia Rd. Westwood, MA 02090(781) 769-4742 Protectmydentalcare.com

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