Not everyone can afford full Private Medical Insurance, but want to avoid getting large charges for types of healthcare the NHS doesn’t cover. The main form of this is dental, where despite there being some NHS offered treatment most dentists have long since filled up all their NHS slots and will only take private customers. If you want to avoid paying hundreds if not thousands of pounds if something goes badly wrong in your mouth, then getting dental insurance is a great way of having peace of mind and often also saving money on treatment.
Even if you do find an NHS dentist in your area and get registered with them, the treatment won’t be free unless your pregnant, a child or have means tested benefits. While some treatments such as scaling and polishing might only cost £16.50, getting dentures or crowns costs £198. It can still be worth getting insurance to avoid these one off costs. Private dentists have fees up to about 4 times NHS fees, so if you can’t get a NHS place at a dentist it definitely is worth getting insurance.
Often your employer will have some form of dental plan they can sign you up to. This generally is much cheaper than getting your own policy and while it is taxable, it’s more tax efficient than paying the same amount yourself as national insurance isn’t charged on it.
Most dental insurance plans will cover not only your standard treatments, but dental emergencies and mouth diseases. What they won’t cover is cosmetic surgery, so if you want your teeth whitened then you’ll still pay the standard rate for this. Usually there’s an excess to pay, often this is a quarter of what you are charged by the dentist but capped at £500 a year. This might seem steep, but in effect it means you’re paying NHS charges for private dentistry.
Costs vary depending on age, so expect your premiums to rise above inflations each year. Nevertheless do shop around, if your policy was the cheapest this year when it comes up for renewal there might be a lower cost option available.
You can also save money by insuring your whole family at once. The insurers often prefer this as there’s less administrative work for them as you’ll typically all make claims at the same time, meaning some of the savings are passed on to you.
There are other options you could consider. Healthcare cash plans work similarly to insurance but pay you cash back when you have treatment. You’ll have to front the money for your treatment though, so if something particularly nasty happens you best have enough spare on your credit card or savings account to pay for it fixing.
Another option of course is paying for private dentistry as you need it. For standard treatment this shouldn’t be too much, and if you need expensive treatment you can often save money by flying to Eastern Europe where you can get high class dentistry for low prices. For most though dental insurance will be a less stressful alternative.