So 2019 has begun. What resolutions have you made? While a lot of people wish for a healthier body, one should not forget the importance of dental health.
Today, I want to talk about dental care in Thailand; especially for expats who are new to the Land of Smiles. While you may think that the dental coverage provided by your employer as part of a group health insurance policy is enough, chances are that the level of benefits is often too low to meet your needs. That’s when private dental insurance coverage comes in handy.
Public vs private dental treatment
To keep your smile bright and confident, dentists generally recommended that people visit their dentist bi-annually for routine check-ups. So even if you think that major dental operation is unlikely required in the near future, regular check-ups are crucial for your oral hygiene and teeth health.
For expats who can access the local universal healthcare system, you are entitled to a vast range of healthcare services provided by the government at zero or close to zero cost, including dental care. However, this system has been criticized as being inconsistent, especially when it comes to dentistry, since the requirements to become a private dental practitioner are less stringent than in developed western countries. This is probably why many expats, including those with access to publicly subsidized healthcare, still choose to go to pricier private health facilities for their dental needs.
Having said that, it is also important to note that the cost of using private medical facilities for dental treatment in Thailand can be very expensive, in part thanks to the rise of medical and dental tourism. Nowadays, it is very common for foreigners to travel to Thailand for dental care. This is because they can enjoy superior dental services at a cost much lower than in most developed countries. Even so, major dental treatment can cost you a lot if you don’t have dental insurance coverage.
Dental health insurance coverage for expats
If you are an expat working in Thailand without access to the local healthcare system, you better have a private dental medical insurance plan in place to address the potential cost of dental treatment at private facilities. While dental insurance rarely comes as a standalone plan in Thailand, you can top up your existing health insurance policy to include dental coverage.
Typically, there are two kinds of dental coverage options in Thailand, namely:
Routine dental treatment
- Routine teeth cleaning
- Dental examinations
- Simple fillings
- Tooth extraction
- Root canals
- Emergency operations
Major dental treatment
- Orthodontic treatment (e.g. braces)
- Wisdom tooth removal
- Bridgework and repairs
- Denture repair and replacement
- Gingivitis and periodontitis treatment
- Membrane treatment and root scaling
Major dental treatment plans have a more comprehensive scope of coverage, which includes a routine dental treatment provision, and naturally comes with a heftier price tag.
Things to notice when securing dental insurance coverages
Apart from the different scopes of coverage, there is a slew of factors that you should take into account when purchasing a dental insurance policy in Thailand, including:
Insurers tend to impose a waiting period in their dental insurance benefits in order to avoid underlying pre-existing dental conditions, and prevent abuse of the product. The waiting period usually lasts for 6 - 12 months, and policyholders have to wait until the time has elapsed before any claims on the policy can be submitted.
Even if you have purchased a major dental treatment plan, it is not going to cover everything in full. Orthodontics often come with a co-payment, which requires the policyholder to pay in part before they can submit claims, as orthodontic care is a costly procedure.
Cosmetic dental treatment
Cosmetic dental treatment such as Invisalign is seen as a cosmetic treatment. Therefore, it is usually excluded from most dental plans. However, it is best to read the terms and conditions of your policy yourself, or check with your insurance agent/broker, as every plan is different.
Most Thailand insurance plans still adopt the “pay and claim later” payment method, which requires the policyholder to pay upfront before lodging claims. However, some insurers may have their provider network of dentists, which can allow for direct billing. If you prefer direct billing, you should check with your insurance agent or broker to ensure that it is possible before purchasing any plan.
Not sure which plan to go for?
As with other forms of insurance policies, it is imperative that you compare coverages and prices of different plans to ascertain that you are paying for what you need. For any questions related to dental coverages, or other forms of insurance, log on to Pacific Prime Thailand’s weekly updated blogs and resources page, where you can find a collection of useful insurance information in the form of articles, guides, reports, and infographics.