The Massachusetts Nurses Association board of directors – 27 elected nurses and healthcare professionals representing the largest union and professional association of registered nurses and healthcare professionals in the Commonwealth – has endorsed an important ballot initiative calling for dental insurance reform, which will appear as Question 2 on the November Ballot.
The measure, the Medical Loss Ratios for Dental Insurance Plans Initiative, provides an important consumer protection by requiring dental insurers to invest the bulk of their premium dollars in direct oral care for patients as opposed to the current practice of those resources being diverted to exorbitant executive salaries and other administrative costs.
The measure imposes spending requirements on dental insurers similar to those already in place for medical insurers.
Currently in Massachusetts, 88% of medical health insurance premiums must be used for treatment, otherwise, it is returned to the subscriber as a rebate. This is called an annual aggregate medical loss ratio. A vote for Question 2 would require dental insurers to spend 83% of insurance premiums on patient care, and if the funds go unspent, the overage would be rebated to subscribers.
“As nurses and health professionals, we have long supported initiatives to require insurers and other providers to utilize their vast resources for the delivery of care to the patients they claim they are there to serve, and that is what this measure will do for those covered by dental insurance plans,” said Katie Murphy, RN, president of the MNA, which represents 25,000 RNs and healthcare professionals working in 85 different health facilities from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. “We also strongly oppose any and all corporate practices that allow greed and profiteering to interfere with or limit patients’ access to the care they need.”
For example, according to a recent 2019 tax filing for Delta Dental, the state’s largest dental insurer, the corporation paid executive bonuses, commissions, and payments to affiliates of $382 million, while only paying $177 million for patient care.
In addition to premium spending requirements, the measure calls for transparency from insurers through reporting on exactly how premium dollars are being allocated, which is of great value to consumers, be they businesses or individuals covered by these plans.
“As caregivers in a variety of settings, we understand that access to quality dental care is an essential component of every resident’s health and wellbeing. Untreated dental issues can contribute to a number of serious medical conditions, including COPD, heart disease and stroke,” conditions Murphy often treats herself as a critical care nurse. “This initiative recognizes the importance of dental care on a par with other forms of medical care and will hold insurers accountable for providing an appropriate level of care,” Murphy concluded.
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About the MNA
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 25,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.