When expats think about healthcare coverage, most overlook the importance of employer dental insurance. Like most others, expats probably have their hands full finding answers to dozens of questions about international health insurance. Expat dental care is just as much of a priority, so taking a moment to look at options is a good addition to the planning process.
Is dental coverage for expats necessary?
You’ve heard the stories and statistics about the importance of oral hygiene. In case you may not be familiar, according to the International Association for Dental Research, tooth decay and periodontal disease are the two most significant dental risks for young adults.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report that 64.7 million people 30 or older have periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. When left untreated, oral illnesses can contribute to complications leading to heart disease and diabetes. It’s safe to say that oral hygiene should be on the list of priorities when planning to leave your home country for an extended period of time.
How to choose dental insurance when leaving the country?
There are many items that should be considered when choosing expat dental coverage. Even if you haven’t visited your dentist for years, it is wise to make arrangements for coverage in a host country. Considering the fact dental coverage abroad can be very costly, establishing an expat dental plan that considers important inclusions, like pre-existing, conditions can save money and reduce any financial risk in the long run.
Standard considerations for expat dental care that are included are consultations and exams, x rays, cleaning, occlusions, root canals, emergency dental care, regular anesthesia, and basic fillings.
Expat dental care plans that cover more complicated procedures typically include tooth adjustment, root scaling, membrane care, periodontitis treatment, bridgework and bridge repairs, temporary crowns, gold crowns, gold jackets, and gingivitis.
Lifetime value, or the maximum amount claimed over the life of the policy, often includes orthodontics for dependent children, up to $1500. If expats are unsure whether this is offered in their plans, make sure to encourage them to ask.
In general, some key questions to consider include:
- Quality of host country dental care system
- Average treatment cost
- Is state or reduced cost treatment available
- Vulnerability to dental problems
- Financial risk without coverage
It is good practice to encourage employees to compare expat dental care plans in their host country and familiarize themselves with the offerings. Rates and options can vary greatly between countries and even regions. For this reason, employees should be aware of whether it is required to pay the clinic directly upfront or whether the dental plan will bill the dentist.
Also, other expats in the host country can provide referrals to new employees for a dentist.
Are pre-existing conditions covered?
Pre-existing conditions include those hygienic ailments that employees had prior to securing expat dental insurance. Not all insurers cover pre-existing conditions, but many group expat insurance plans provide an option to have them covered. If employees are not aware if pre-existing conditions are covered in their expat dental care, it’s best to encourage them to ask.
Things to consider
Expats generally prefer private dental insurance. Even in countries where public dental insurance is provided, private insurance provides quicker access to quality dental care. It also provides more flexibility in choosing a dentist, routine check-ups, and a better quality of dental care.
Always remember to examine the facility for appropriate credentials and proper hygiene practices. Many expats may prefer Western-trained dentists, but most local medical and dental staff is appropriately trained. It is simply a matter of personal preference for the expat.
However, it’s important to remember that all expat dental rates depend on the expat population demographics, including age and country location.
WellAway is here to answer any questions and guide your organization through this process — give us a call for more information. Our superior 24/7 concierge service is ready to get you started.