A really common question we are asked is “which health insurance is best for dental treatment?”. I guess the real question we are being asked, is “which dental insurance provides the best rebate?”. Well this is a really difficult question to answer. Let me tell you why.
If you call your health insurance fund and complain about the low rebates they are offering you, I am sure that they will ask you to change to one of their preferred providers. This does not mean that the preferred provider is better. The health fund does not assess the dentist at all. The only thing that the health insurance company considers is that the dentist is willing to accept the conditions that the health fund set, including fees, the number of treatments they provide and the range of services that they will cover. This means that the preferred provider dentist is willing to accept a lower fee for the treatment they provide.
So how does a dentist accept a lower fee?
- The dentist needs to perform more treatments in a shorter amount of time. So instead of taking time, your filling will be done quickly so that they can move on to the next patient and make more money.
- The staff within the practice will not be paid well, so they are usually new to the industry to gain experience. Behind the scenes, this is really important. I know that I am so fussy about cleaning and sterilisation in my practice. I make sure that my staff have the time to undertake these procedures to a high standard.
- The filling materials, instruments and so on are not the best quality to keep the costs of the service low.
- Any crowns or laboratory work is usually sent off-shore to China or the Phillipines, to again keep the price low. Let me tell you, the quality of the work will not be the same as hand crafted Australian specialist dental labs.
- The practice is usually not accredited or of a high standard. iDental is accredited which means that our standards and procedures have been checked and audited against the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards.
- The dentists in the practice are usually only employed there for a short time. They gain some experience doing quick cheap dentistry, before moving on to a more fulfilling dental position.
Now let’s talk about the rebates themselves. Here is where it becomes really interesting. Health insurance companies that steer you to use a preferred provider pay higher rebates at preferred providers because they know that seems attractive. But what has just happened here? Your right to choose who you see, where you go and who looks after your health has just been taken away and now put into the hands of a health insurer. Remembering that your health insurer has not made this decision based on quality or experience. It has been made with the lure of higher rebates to steer you to a dental practice that accepts low fees. That is it.
So where can you get a better health insurance deal? The best deal in health insurance is where the health insurer provides cover you actually need for the least amount of money, and provides equal rebates to you no matter who you see. This applies to dentists, physiotherapists, and other health providers. I highly recommend that you have your health insurance policy assessed by an independent service provider called Fair Health Care. They help you compare health funds that are known for paying fair extras rebates at any health provider in Australia. The Fair Health Care Alliance opposes anyone being advised by their health fund that they will get more back if they were to switch to a different health provider practice.
Thanks for reading!