The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2020 was signed into law on January 13 after a multi-year effort by organizations including the ADA to persuade Congress that healthcare insurance including dental plans no longer should be protected from some federal antitrust laws, according to the ADA. The new law is aimed at improving transparency and competition in the health, dental, and vision insurance marketplaces, the ADA said.
The protection of health insurers from some federal antitrust laws dates back decades due to a limited exemption established under the 1947 McCarran-Ferguson Act, the ADA said. The new law makes the conduct of health insurers subject to more of the nation’s antitrust laws like all other businesses in the United States and helps remove additional obstacles to investigation and enforcement, the ADA said.
Since health insurers now will be subject to the same enforcement as other businesses, the ADA believes that both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice will be more likely to investigate alleged anticompetitive practices and activities of healthcare insurers.
“Over time, we will expect to see some changes in the dental plan marketplace that would benefit all,” said ADA president Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD. “If dental plan companies are compelled to compete fairly and transparently, we should begin to see increased innovation and choice for consumers and providers as the dental plan marketplace changes over time.”
Dental plan companies might look for ways to distinguish themselves by offering better levels of coverage with lower premiums and reductions in copayments with expanded provider networks and services and other improved features, Klemmedson said. Economic experts believe the antitrust exemption suppressed the health insurance market dynamic, the ADA added.
Klemmedson expects the new law to open up more opportunities for new insurance companies to enter the market to compete in offering better and more affordable coverage to consumers and better terms to doctors, hospitals, and providers.
“Ultimately, expanding choices under health and dental insurance plans will mean better plans for consumers and improvements for healthcare professionals who seek to provide healthcare to patients within a more consumer-friendly framework,” said Klemmedson.