The debate about private dental health insurance

The debate about private dental health insurance

Private dental health insurance is a contentious issue in our profession. We’ve all seen news stories about private health insurers raising fees all the time. And I know that some people who have done the calculations say that it’s not worth it—that the money that you’re paying for your premium is money you’ll never get back, no matter how much treatment you receive.

Having said that, I’m neither for or against private dental health insurance. Insurance isn’t meant to be a savings account. I think it’s reasonable to have the cover to help you out when you’re facing difficulties. I myself have a lot of insurance because I have a family.

But if you do choose to take out health insurance, it is worth examining the level of coverage you choose, especially if you’re over the age of 50.

Private dental health insurance for older patients

The reality all of us face is your health deteriorates as you age. The kind of oral health problems we see in older people are just a natural result of the ageing process, but they tend to get complex quickly.

For example, some women will start to develop a dry mouth as a side effect of menopause. Less saliva in the mouth means less of the body’s natural defense against demineralization.

Long-term, slow-burn problems like bruxism and TMJ also tend to come to the fore when you’re older. It’s possible to grind your teeth in your sleep for years and not feel like there’s anything wrong until the combination of cracks and wear expose a nerve.

Even cosmetic procedures may demand more treatment when they’re done on older teeth, as they may require a different combination of treatments before any cosmetic work can be done. I’m not saying that the treatments we would offer will definitely be covered by health insurance—it really depends on the policy, and there are many different options.

Where it may become appealing to you is to offer some level of support if you do face one of these age-related problems somewhere down the track.

Is private insurance right for you?

Minimal or basic health coverage won’t help you in these situations. It doesn’t cover much, and it has never covered the amount that you’re hoping for. But it’s there to help you out if need be.

If you feel that it’s not worth the money that you’re putting in, in terms of the premium, then it’s okay not to have it.

I personally do have health insurance, just because I’m happy to spend some money in return for peace of mind. But I can’t recommend a particular package that is the best. As I wrote before, premiums and policies differ for everyone. You really have to do your own calculations to work out what you need.