Ways to Pay for Dental Treatment in the UK
Here in the UK, there are many options available to us when it comes to seeking dental treatment. The options include the type of treatment and the payment method.
NHS Patient Charges
The cost of NHS dental treatment is set by the government. Costs can vary depending on which part of of the UK you live in. In England, there are three price bands which vary based on the level of treatment required. The bands range from £21.60 to £256.50. Wales too has three cost bands, but the price range (£14 to £195) is lower. The maximum cost of one cost of NHS dental treatment in Northern Ireland and Scotland is £390.
Positives: Since the charges are dictated by the government, you know exactly how much your treatment will cost. Furthermore, some people qualify for free NHS dental treatment. To qualify you need to be on certain state benefits, like income-based JSA or income support, under the age of 18, a pregnant woman, or a mother with a child under 12 months.
Negatives: There is a high demand for NHS dental care in many areas, so you might have to wait a long time to get an appointment. In addition, if you miss your first appointment, a dentist can refuse to provide you with any treatment in the future. You can also only get certain treatments, like sliver fillings, extraction and root canals, which are deemed necessary. You have to pay out of pocket for any treatment that isn’t covered in the NHS guidelines.
These are monthly payment plans that reimburse you with all or at least a proportion of the cost of dental treatment either privately or at an NHS dentist up to an agreed amount.
Positives: You get money back for any dental treatment you have up to a set amount. This amount can either be a percentage of the total treatment cost or in some cases, the full cost. Over a year, you can typically claim for a lot more than what you pay into the plan. With cash plans, you can spread the cost of treatment over a longer period of time. Such plans are great for any unplanned or expensive treatment.
Negatives: If you don’t require any dental treatment in a given year, they can leave you out of pocket.
Private Dental Insurance Coverage
A monthly insurance plan. You pay your private dentist for any treatment you need out of pocket and you can then claim the cost back from the insurance provider.
Positives: Private dental insurance provides you with cover in the event of an accident or dental emergency which can be costly to treat. A lot of private dental insurance plans also provide cover for accidents or emergencies that happen overseas, so they are particularly beneficial if you’re a frequent traveller. Often, you can choose whether to pay annually or monthly for your insurance, and coverage offers you peace of mind and protection against super large dental bills.
Negatives: The cost of private dental insurance can be high depending on your dental history, overall health and age. Some insurance policies place a cap on the cost of private treatment – usually around 50% – which means you have to make up the difference. The majority of policies have qualifying periods ranging from one month to six months, and you often can’t claim for any dental treatment during those periods.
Any private dental treatment provided outside of an NHS contract and therefore not subject to UK government price caps.
Positives: There are numerous benefits to private dentistry. There are generally no long waiting times for an appointment and it can be easier to schedule appointments to match your schedule. You also only pay for the dental treatment you receive, and the level of treatment you opt for is up to you. As long as you can afford it, you can have many treatments, such as teeth whitening in Fleet, that aren’t currently available on the NHS. You also have the power to “shop around”; separate dental practices often have different prices for similar treatments, and by comparing different options, you can choose the best one for you in regards to the dentist and the price.
Negatives: The main drawback of private treatment is that it can be very expensive. Treatments that are not available on the NHS, such as white fillings, implants, bridges and some crowns, can cost a lot of money at a private dental practice.