Washington — The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, legislation that repeals the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for health insurance companies, became law on Jan. 13.
The law is the “culmination of a multi-year effort by several organizations, including the American Dental Association, to persuade Congress that health care insurance, including dental plans, should no longer be protected from some of the federal antitrust laws,” according to an ADA news release.
The new law is aimed at improving transparency and competition in the health, dental and vision insurance marketplaces. The ADA hopes this will lead the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate alleged anticompetitive practices and activities of health care insurers, the release said.
“Over time, we will expect to see some changes in the dental plan marketplace that would benefit all,” said ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D. “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 market place changes over time.”
Dr. Klemmedson said that the law could lead dental plan companies to “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.” Letters posted on the Consumer Reports website show that “experts believe that the antitrust exemption [have] suppressed the health insurance market dynamic,” he noted.
The new law should also 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, Dr. Klemmedson said.
“Ultimately, expanding choices under health and dental insurance plans will mean better plans for consumers, and improvements for health care professionals who seek to provide health care to patients within a more consumer-friendly framework,” Dr. Klemmedson concluded.
The ADA has developed an FAQ for ADA dentists with questions about how this law will affect dentists and dental practices. Download the one-page summary and the ADA FAQ here.
For more information on the ADA’s advocacy efforts, visit ADA.org/Advocacy.