What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?
Dental plans : Maintenance plans for individuals
Unless you are in the minority who gets free NHS treatment, the costs of going to a dentist can be high, and are getting higher. Sudden unexpected trips to the dentist are costly, which is why it is much better to have regular examinations and maintenance. Finding a dentist is not always easy. Dental maintenance plans ensure that you are a registered private patient with a particular practice.
What is a dental maintenance plan?
Under a dental plan, in return for annual or monthly payments, you get a care contract/maintenance plan. Some dental plans are every wide, covering almost everything. Some only cover routine work.
The contract is between you and your dentist. You can only go to your registered dentist. Where a dental insurer is involved, it is in promoting and selling the dental plan to individuals and dental practices, and helping the dentist with administration.
The dental insurer usually includes a supplementary insurance within dental plans.
The maintenance plan allows you to pay a fixed monthly cost for a variety of routine treatments and check ups. The more you pay, the less is excluded. Any treatment not covered by the maintenance plan has to be paid for by you to the dentist.
The dental plan normally covers all normal routine dental care including check-ups, fillings, X-rays and preventive care, but doesn't cover cosmetic dentistry. It may also include supplementary insurance cover towards the cost of treatment required as a result of dental accidents and emergencies.
What is a capitation scheme?
A confusing and misleading name for certain types of dental maintenance plan. To avoid jargon and confusion we call them all maintenance plans.
How much does a maintenance plan cost?
This depends on two factors:
- How wide a plan you choose
- The state of your teeth
You must have a pre-enrolment assessment of your teeth. Individual dentists set their own premium, so the cost will depend on the state of your oral health and how much treatment you need. Some plans insist on remedial work being done before you are accepted for a plan.
Who are maintenance plans for?
For people with sound teeth, who are prepared to invest in preventative treatment and remedial work.
Are they insurance?
Strictly speaking, no, as they are a contract for services. Where the picture often gets very confusing is that most leading plans automatically include an insurance element.
What extra insurance cover is included?
These additional or supplementary insurances are not an option. The purpose of including insurance within a plan is to cover non-routine problems, which can be costly to treat:
- Emergency treatment while travelling
- Oral cancer
How do I choose?
Dental maintenance plans work in an unusual way. Most dental practices doing private work offer plans. A few will offer you a choice between providers. Most now only offer the plan or plans from one chosen provider.
Most use a specialist provider, but a few individual practices offer their own "in house" scheme. Some look like individual schemes but are just a plan from a provider with the dental practice brand on it.
To choose between plan providers, you have to choose dentists who offer those plans. Some plans offer help in finding dentists who offer their plans.
Some plan providers only deal with dental practices and discourage contact by individual patients. Some of these are frequently mentioned in the press in articles about dental insurance. Private Healthcare UK does not list those trade plans that are "unfriendly to customers" or so local that they only apply to one or a small handful of dental practices.
Where to buy cover
If you want to keep using your own regular dentist, it is best to talk to them first, as they may only offer one or more plans from one or two providers. Dental practices rarely offer a range of plans and insurances.
Unlike other health insurance product profiles on this site, the profiles of dental maintenance plans are a guide only. Some plan providers offer a fixed package, while others allow the dental practice to tailor the cover to what the practice and its patients need. So, some of our profiles will say "typical plan" but this may differ from what an individual dental practice will offer you.