Dentists have been trying to drill dental hygiene into us for decades, yet as many as one in two children in Singapore have suffered from rotten teeth (Straits Times, 2014). Fear of visiting the tooth doctor is doubtless one factor, but there is also the fact that dental care can be expensive – and is often not included in basic health insurance plans. That’s why it’s imperative to purchase dental insurance in order to get all your teeth needs covered. Here, the team at Pacific Prime Singapore gives us the lowdown about this important but often overlooked area of insurance coverage.
#1 What does dental insurance cover?
Most major insurance companies offer two types of dental coverage: routine dental treatment and major dental treatment. Route dental treatment includes teeth cleaning, fillings, root canals, emergency dental treatment, x-rays and consultations, while major dental treatment consists of gingivitis treatment, root scaling, bridgework, periodontitis treatment and orthodontic work. For children and teens, braces can be included but generally includes a 50% co-pay component. Depending on the policy, wisdom tooth surgery may also be covered.
Routine dental work is of course cheaper than major dental treatment, so the coverage for the latter will be more pricy. Hence, for long-term and expensive treatments like orthodontic work, you can expect a higher premium.
Cosmetic dental work can be a grey area for coverage. Treatments such as Invisalign are generally not covered. However, if your doctor recommends putting in veneers for medical reasons, insurance might cover the costs. It’s important to be clear about what your dental insurance covers before purchasing it.
#2 Why is it important to get dental insurance?
- To avoid the financial burden of costly treatments, particularly for dental emergencies and lengthy procedures. Dental charges in Singapore are generally higher than in other popular Southeast Asian “dental tourism” spots such as Thailand and Vietnam.
- To ensure regular cleanings, checkups and overall dental health. Individuals without insurance are less likely to seek regular care.
- To get access to the highest quality dental care providers. With public dental care, you may face problems such as long waits, delays and less technologically advanced care.
- To be able to access dental treatment anywhere around the globe (if it’s an international plan).
#3 Are there family dental insurance plans?
There are no specific family dental insurance plans. However, there may be family discounts in the form of a premium discount, or what is known as a free child (or children) discount. Free child discounts usually work by providing insurance to all children beyond a family’s second child at no additional charge, meaning families with more children will benefit from significant savings. To benefit from this, the whole family will usually need to take the same cover.
#4 What should I look out for?
- Waiting periods: Be aware that all dental plans come with a waiting period, commonly six months. Any dental work, major or minor (such as fillings), will not be covered during the period.
- Specific clinics or hospitals: Some insurers may have direct billing arrangements with their networks of specific dental practices, while others will allow clients to use any clinic, pay and be reimbursed later. Check your plan and take note of the list of clinics, if applicable.
- Private and public institutions: People who buy dental cover generally use private facilities. Dental coverage can only be bought with at least an inpatient insurance plan and they tend to have waiting periods, caps and co-pays.
#5 How do I go about getting dental insurance?
You can get dental benefits as an add-on to your basic hospitalisation plans. Dental insurance does not come as a stand-alone policy but as an optional benefit on top of a medical plan. Choose to get your plan through a broker in order to secure the best deals.
Let Pacific Prime Singapore help you find adequate dental coverage to add to your existing insurance plan or for advice on a better overall health insurance plan.
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