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Millions Forced To Opt For Private Dental Treatment

This April the Government is forcing a new service contract on dentists that includes a new pay scale, changes to their working hours and surgery arrangements. Now dentists are not a cantankerous profession, but there's widespread irritation and disillusionment amongst them at the Governments seemingly heavy-handed action. And they're determined not to be pushed around.

As a result thousands of dentists are registering their refusal to accept the new contract and have given their notice to quit the NHS at the end of March.

This will create mayhem for clients. Many seeking treatment on the NHS will be simply turned away. Those dentists who do accept the new NHS contract will then face a flood of new clients seeking treatment. The vast majority will again be turned away as even before this bust up, there was a dire shortage of dentists. Waiting lists are bound to be a mile long. No, sorry, two miles long!

As a result, if you are desperate for treatment to a broken tooth or an abscess, you'll be forced to search out a community based dental surgery operated by the NHS itself. Ask your Doctor for directions to the closest to you. The odds are they'll be miles away. This means a long journey plus a hospital style queue on arrival. Getting dental treatment will simply take all day!

For many, private dentistry is the only alternative. Going private means you'll get an appointment when you want one rather than waiting for ages with the NHS, and you can pick and choose your dentist. But it can be expensive. The only good news is that there are solutions to keep costs under control.

You essentially have three key options: dental insurance, capitalisation schemes or cash plans.

Dental Insurance The insurance industry has responded with a whole host of varying dental insurance policies. The following are just some typical examples:

Western Provident has been in the dental insurance market for many years. Its Providential policy provides a basic level of dentistry cover with fixed monthly premiums. For those aged 18 to 49 the premium is £12.48 and £15.90 per month for those between 50 and 69. Policyholders have to pay the first 25% of each treatment but can claim up to £250 per year towards routine treatment including check-ups, visits to the hygienist and fillings. Emergency dental treatment can be claimed up to £1,000 per year but cover for accidental dental injury is limited to £250 per treatment.

£6 per month gets you basic dental insurance with Universal Provident. Their policy insures you for up to £1,000 per year for routine work but it won't pay for check-ups. Accidental damage up to £1,000 per year and dental emergencies are insured up to £5,000 per year.

Many policies also limit the number of dental treatments they'll pay each year. For example, the policy from Boot's limits your claims to two check-ups, one crown and four fillings a year up to £500. Boot's policies start at £9 per month.

Capitalisation Schemes This is the most expensive option. Prior to taking up the policy, your dentist has to make an assessment of your dental health and places you in one of five treatment groups. This will determine how much your scheme costs. The better your dental condition, the less you pay.

For example, Denplan's dental care scheme costs between £9 and £30 per month. We are told that their average fee is £16.

Cash Plans The last alternative is a composite health cash plan. These pay out for dentistry but also a wide range of other health treatments such as optical treatment, hospital treatment, physiotherapy, chiropody even allergy testing. Each policy spells out exactly what is covered and the maximum value you can claim to for each kind of health treatment. You have plenty of choice as most cash plans offer three or four grades of benefit level. The more you pay, the more you can claim. Some plans allow you to reclaim 100% of the cost up to the annual maximum set for each health category, some will only pay a proportion of the cost. With cash plans, the maximum cover for dentistry tends to be in the range of £70 to £200 per year depending on the company you choose and the option you go for.

For examples of cash plans, visit www.securehealth.co.uk and www.hsa.co.uk. Click on “cash plans” when you get there.

How to get top value in Dental cover As with most types of insurance, you'll get it cheapest on the Internet. Search for “dental insurance” but use the .co.uk variant of your search engine – otherwise you'll come up with masses of American sites!

The best UK sites to visit are those that either enable you to compare plans or those operated by a specialist dental insurance broker. With brokers, you submit your details and they'll come back to you with the options and best dental policies available for you.

If you do want to go direct to an insurance company, you can still do it on the Internet - but it's unlikely that you'll stumble on exactly the best policy for you amongst the many hundreds available. And the broker may well be cheaper. It will come as no surprise that we recommend the broker route!

Submitted by:

Michael Challiner

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