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WSDA sees 'meaningful changes' in insurance law

April 24, 2015

By Craig Palmer

Seattle – Legislation enacted with the governor's signature April 17 "does two important things for dentistry in Washington," the Washington State Dental Association said in an all-member email posted at "The dental profession has many people to thank for making it happen."

The new law, "an act relating to prohibiting unfair and deceptive dental insurance practices," was unopposed in the state legislature after professional and public stakeholders brokered an agreement, the WSDA said. The act takes effect Jan. 1, 2017. The all-member email said that Substitute House Bill 1002:

  • "Prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for same-day emergency treatment.
  • "Requires that dental carriers submit loss ratio statements to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. This information will increase transparency and accountability by disclosing how patient premium dollars are being spent. A loss ratio is the percentage of premium dollars that are spent on patient care. Washington is the second state in the nation to require dental loss ratio disclosure. Similar legislation was passed in California in 2014."

“WSDA members Dr. Cindy Pauley and Dr. Amy Cook saw a problem and proactively got to work to fix it,” the WSDA said. A “diverse group of stakeholders” included insurance carriers, dentists, WSDA, legislative staff and Rep. Michelle Caldier, a WSDA member dentist who brokered the agreement that limited the legislation to the two provisions. Rep. Richard DeBolt was the prime sponsor of the bill.

"The combined efforts of everyone involved resulted in a substitute bill that faced no opposition as it worked its way through the legislative process," the WSDA said. "Working together resulted in meaningful changes to aid the dental profession, and patients throughout our state will be helped."

The 2014 WSDA House of Delegates called on the organization to work with legislators, insurance carriers, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders to support legislation that requires all dental plans to meet a minimum loss ratio standard.