Take the pain out of dental bills
Going to the dentist can be painful financially as well as physically. If you don’t have access to an NHS dentist, routine treatments can easily run into hundreds of pounds.
According to research by Simply Health 39% of Britons have had to pay for dental bills over £50 using a credit card, and 2% have been forced to take out a loan.
On top of this, 43% of people have put off visiting the dentist because of the cost. For over a third of these people, not visiting the dentist has brought about devastating effects – from long-term tooth decay, to loss of a tooth or needing to undergo extreme dental procedures.
However, there are ways you can plan ahead to cushion the blow of dental costs.
Health cash plans are the cheapest way to get help with dental costs and they also contribute towards other medical care such as opticians’ appointments, osteopathy and physiotherapy.
The plans are different to private medical insurance in that they are designed to help with everyday medical costs rather than pay for treatment for serious conditions.
With cash plans you arrange and pay for the treatment yourself then claim a proportion of the costs back from the provider. The amount you are allowed to claim back depends on which of a provider's policies you choose. The more expensive a policy, the more you can reclaim each year.
How much your plan costs depends on your age when you join, whether you join as a single person, or as part of a couple or family, and finally, on the level of cover you require. Compared to private medical insurance, the plans are pretty cheap - Simply Health has plans starting at £2.25 a week, Westfield’s plans start at £5.35 per month and plans with BHSF start at £6.80 a month. Payment levels will vary from plan to plan so check the details to find the most appropriate package for you.
If it’s just dental bills you’re worried about you can take out dental insurance. With dental insurance you can claim for treatments whether you choose to go privately or via the NHS. How much cover you get for routine treatments, emergencies and injuries varies from policy to policy.
Tesco offers dental insurance from £19.95 a month which covers private dental treatment. It will reimburse 100% of routine treatments such as check-ups, and 50% of certain unplanned treatments. However, there are plenty of exclusions – the policy doesn’t cover existing problems you had when you signed up for the policy, or any treatments identified during the policy’s “qualifying period”, this is one month for core cover or three months for premium cover.
Alternatively, “capitation schemes” involve fixed monthly payments based on the amount of treatment your dentist thinks you will need. Once you have registered, you are given an initial dental check. The dentist then assesses how much you should pay each month, depending on how much treatment you are likely to need in the future and the level of cover you want.
The contract is fixed between you and your dentist and administered by a dental payment plan specialist. One of the best known is Denplan, which also provides white label products for other insurance companies.
Private medical insurance
Many private medical insurance (PMI) policies include cover for dental treatments, although policies differ on what they cover – some only cover emergencies for example, and most will not cover cosmetic treatment. PMI tends to be expensive but is a popular employee benefit so check if your company offers it.
Private medical insurance
PMI allows you to skip the NHS waiting list and arrange treatment at a time you choose. With most PMI policies, you pay a monthly premium (the older you are, generally the higher premium) and the policy will then pay out, up to specified cover limits and after an agreed excess, for any treatment you might need. Not all conditions are covered by PMI and you get what you pay for: the more cover you want, the higher your premium will be.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.