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Last Updated on 24 February 2019

Private Health Insurance for Dental Treatment: Can You Afford It?

The question should really be: can you afford not to have dental cover? This really depends on your financial circumstances and your dental health needs. Dental insurance may seem expensive, and those who are in the lowest socioeconomic classes may not be willing or able to shell out the money for it. However, it may be crucial to your dental health, and if you need dental treatment, you will have to pay for it yourself if you have no health insurance coverage.

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No Reform Yet

Medicare currently does not cover dental expenses. This makes it financially burdensome for those in lower socio-economic strata to visit the dentist and receive proper dental care. What ends up happening is that some Australians don’t get any dental care at all, because paying out of pocket is just too expensive.

Emergency dental admissions now account for the largest category of acute preventable conditions, simply because many patients didn’t feel that they had the financial  means to deal with what could have been a far less serious problem if treated at an early stage.

While different platforms for dental coverage for all Australian citizens are being discussed, many people are simply not taking out dental insurance, in the hopes that nothing will go wrong. For too many, things do go wrong, and they suffer the financial consequences of foregoing private health insurance.

Why You May Need Dental Cover

No one can hide forever from medical issues. Dental problems have the unfortunate trick of going unnoticed for a significant amount of time before being discovered, deceiving the patient into believing that she is perfectly fine, when in reality her teeth may be slowly decaying. By the time the problem becomes apparent, it is often too late to repair the situation and being back healthy teeth and gums.

The only way to keep your mouth healthy is through regular dental check-ups and prevention. If you visit a dentist regularly enough, they should spot any problems early, and you may be able to hold onto your teeth. Without regular dental care, there is a substantial chance that a person may actually lose some or even all of their teeth.

Frightening statistics show that up to 20% of adults in the lowest socio-economic classes have lost all of their teeth. The figure is only 1% for those in the highest classes, who are able to spend money on private health insurance, including dental, and receive the care they need.

Compare Health Funds

Although dental insurance means more money out of your pocket now, if you compare private health funds you will find that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dental insurance and that there are various different deals to be had. Some insurers have agreements with certain dentists to see clients at a cheaper price to bolster clientele. Affordable health insurance with a dental plan is out there, but you may have to spend some time on health insurance comparison to find one that suits you.

There are generally two streams of insurance offered. The first, general dental cover, covers the basics – trips to the dentist twice a year for regular check-ups and whatever comes with that, such as x-rays and cleanings. The second stream, major dental cover, covers many extra services for full dental health, such as crowns, orthodontics, fillings, bridges and wisdom teeth removal.

Depending on your stage in life, how many family members you have and what their needs are, you can choose one or the other (or none at all). Most adults will use services covered by general dental insurance, but at some point down the line almost everyone needs something extra, such as a filling or crown. Consider your family’s likely future dental health needs, and look at the costs of the relevant services and treatments. You may decide it makes sense to pay a premium now to cover the costs of dental care later down the line.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication

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