Dental Tourism and Insurance
Dental clinics in foreign countries could provide cheaper treatments to people than dental clinics in the United States. Unfortunately, while travel and dental insurance policies may pay for their beneficiaries’ dental work in an emergency, “[most] dental insurance plans don’t cover treatment abroad…” (“Dental Tourism Guide: How to Get Cheaper Dental Implants and Other Treatment Abroad”). Some dental insurance policies could pay for treatments done in foreign countries.
Patients may have to deal with some rules in order to receive dental coverage in foreign countries. People could utilize an international treatment option for dental coverage, depending on their policies (Burhenne). Also, insurance companies may have networks of international dentists to whom people could go for covered treatments (Burhenne). For instance, Companion Life Insurance Co., which “offers standard insurance products,” has a network of three dental practices in Costa Rica (Du Molin 2009). Though, patients may initially pay full price for the treatments and services since most practices in foreign countries “cannot direct [sic] bill [their] insurance company,” but “some dental offices in Mexico can directly bill [their] insurance company…” (Phinyowan 2014; “What You Need to Know About Using Your Dental Insurance to Cover Treatment in Mexico”). Most patients have to send their claims containing “[an] English translation of the claim (if possible),” “[information] on the treatment provided,” “[the] tooth or teeth numbers,” “[the] date of service,” and “[the] cost of service” to their insurance companies (Sanjines 2018). Though, different dental insurance companies may need different things from their beneficiaries’ claims (Sanjines 2018). After sending the claim, their company “will reimburse [the patients] for any eligible costs” (Phinyowan 2014; Sanjines 2018).
With this reimbursement, patients could save more money on dental work in foreign countries. While some insurance companies utilize their annual caps to limit the amount of coverage for treatments and services, patients may still be responsible for lower out-of-pocket payments for treatments abroad than payments in US dental clinics (Phinyowan 2014). Patients may even pay nothing abroad, depending on their insurance policies (Phinyowan 2014). For instance, if the patient has an annual cap of $2,000 and the “[average] cost of 5 crowns in the US or Canada” is $4,000, then the patient “would pay: $2,000” (Phinyowan 2014). In contrast, if the “[average cost] of 5 crowns in Mexico or Costa Rica” is $2,000 and the “[amount] reimbursed by dental insurance provider” is $2,000, then the patient “would pay: $0” (Phinyowan 2014).
Patients should check whether their policy would cover and reimburse them for dental work done internationally (Phinyowan 2014). Furthermore, since some dental clinics abroad could perform poor treatments, people “should also check whether [their] policy will cover any follow-up work or emergency care once [they] return home. Some explicitly exclude treatment on work that was originally carried out overseas” (“Dental Tourism Guide: How to Get Cheaper Dental Implants and Other Treatment Abroad”). With a good dental clinic abroad along with insurance, people could spend less on high quality dental care.