Smile! You can use health insurance to cover dentist costs
Going to the dentist isn’t always a fun experience for many people – and it can sometimes mean a significant bill. The good news is that health insurance, depending on the policy, can help.
The cost of dental care
While basic dental care is mostly free for children and teenagers, it can be expensive for adults who do not have Community Services or SuperGold cards. Consumer NZ research shows that a routine check-up cost a median $74 around the country in 2021, and an amalgam filling was about $220. But more significant procedures could run into thousands of dollars.
Compared to other countries with more Government funding of dental services, such as the UK, dental treatment in New Zealand can be quite expensive. There is less funding available for dental care than for other forms of healthcare, like going to the GP, and only about 15% of the cost of dental treatments is paid by the Government. ACC is available for dental problems that have been caused by an accident – such as a tooth damaged during a sporting match – but it will not help if your problem is just wear and tear, or a medical issue.
But not going can be costly, too
One study found that almost 90% of people said they had put off going to the dentist because of the cost. But the cost of not going can be high, too. If you put off going to the dentist, any problems that you have with your teeth can become worse – something that was a small cavity can turn into a root canal, for example.
You could also develop things like periodontal disease, which can eventually spread. Waiting for treatment can add to your physical discomfort, and the eventual financial cost.
Insurance can help
The good news is that it is possible to cover some of the costs of dental care with insurance from a range of providers in New Zealand.
This doesn’t usually come automatically as part of a health insurance policy, but can be purchased as an “add-on” or standalone dental cover. Some “everyday”-style policies include cover for dental checks but not surgical procedures.
Claims are usually made on a co-payment basis, where you pay a bit of the bill and the insurer pays the rest, up to a certain limit. The amount of cover available in dental policies can be quite limited so it’s important to talk to an insurance adviser like us to make sure you have the cover you need. In some cases, there is a stand-down period, to stop people from taking out the policy only when they realise they have a big dentist bill looming.
And will deliver long-term benefits
When you have health insurance, you can book in with the dentist regularly to ensure you stay on top of your oral health and keep your mouth in good shape throughout your life.
This will not only keep you more comfortable, but it could help to avoid costly problems further down the track.
As with all insurance policies, it’s important to check the terms and conditions of the options you are considering, because insurers often have different approaches to the cover offered.
Like to chat?
We can help you work through the various dental insurance options available and how they might fit in with your existing health insurance cover.
Give us a call today.
Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek independent guidance.