Navigating through the private health system can be tricky. It becomes even more complex when considering all of your health needs, and the many cover types available.
When considering your health insurance, it’s important not to forget about dental cover.
Medicare doesn’t cover dental except under special circumstances. So many times, patients are left paying a hefty bill for dental treatments unless they have private health cover.
And while it might seem like a nuisance to have to pay another bill, appropriate dental cover will most certainly pay for itself, as dental work can be very expensive without cover to back you up.
Dental cover is important because it can:
- Cover the normal upkeep and maintenance of your teeth
- Pay for ongoing dental problems
- Cover emergency dental treatments
What types of insurance policies cover dental?
Dental work is covered under extras, and is therefore separate from hospital cover. Extras cover will also typically include other items, such as optical and physiotherapy.
But as with most health insurance policies, there are different types and various levels of extras cover.
So, what types of dental policies are there?
There are two basic types: general dental and major dental. Let’s discuss both.
General Dental Cover
General Dental Cover is designed to take care of your basic dental needs and focuses on preventative care.
Most General Dental Cover plans will include:
- Annual checkups
- Flouride treatments
- Minor fillings
- Other preventative care
- Minor extractions
Waiting periods for most general dental treatments are 2 months, but many insurers waive waiting periods for simple preventative treatments.
If you decide on a basic extras policy, it will likely include several general dental items. More comprehensive extras policies (or adding additional extras to a basic policy) may include some items from the major dental category.
General Dental: Pros
- Price: Extras plans that only include General Dental treatment are relatively inexpensive, with many costing less than $25 a month.
- Waiting Periods: The wait times associated with General Dental services are normally only 2 months. Even so, many insurers waive wait periods if you are only looking for preventative care services.
General Dental: Cons
- Coverage level: general dental focuses on preventative care. So, if you have a dental emergency or need more extensive treatment, odds are it won’t be covered. You’ll need to seek out cover for major dental to assist with extensive treatment such as root canal, crowns, bridges and orthodontic care.
- Policy tiers: not all extras policies that have general dental cover include all items in the list above. Insurers will likely provide extras coverage tiers that will include different items under general dental cover. With that, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re paying for.
Major Dental Cover
As its name suggests, major dental is designed to provide cover for more extensive dental treatments and procedures. In addition to the items included under general dental, major dental normally includes:
- Complex fillings
- Major extractions
- Root Canal
- Orthodontics – On rare occasions, you will see health funds offer orthodontics cover as its own category, but generally it falls under major dental.
Because major dental includes more intensive procedures, it sometimes works in conjunction with your hospital cover. For example, if you need an oral surgery that must be performed in a hospital, hospital cover will take care of some of the charges, and your extras policy will cover others.
Waiting periods for major dental services range from 6 to 12 months and are generally NOT waived by insurers.
Major Dental Cover Pros
- Coverage levels: major dental covers more serious dental services and are invaluable during unforeseen dental emergencies.
- Inclusive coverage: in addition to covering preventative services and smaller dental issues, major dental also includes services that are beneficial for all stages life, including periodontics and orthodontics.
Major Dental Cover Cons
- Price: the cost for an all-inclusive, top-of-the-line extras plan with major dental cover generally costs around $100 a month—about 4 times more than a basic extras policy with general dental.
- Waiting times: waiting times for major dental services range from 6 to 12 months, so it’s important to be proactive when considering your dental needs.
Which Is Best?
There is no one perfect dental solution for each person. To determine which type of dental cover is right for you, it’s important to evaluate your circumstances.
General dental cover is normally enough for young people or couples who have good dental health. If this is the case for you, make sure to take advantage of the included cleanings and other preventative care measures to ensure your teeth remain in good condition.
Families, the elderly, and people with known dental issues may consider a policy with major dental cover. These groups are more likely to need the additional services that come with major dental and will see the most benefit from their monthly premiums.
If you think or know that you will need an expensive dental procedure in the future, it may be worthwhile to opt for major dental cover. While it may cost more in the short term, you could end up saving big bucks in the long run. Still unsure? Compare policies here to find your best suited level of dental cover.