September 1, 2021

I have watched rebates from private health insurers dwindle over the past 20 years. These days you would be lucky to get even half of your dental bill back. So why do people do it? My two cents is that people like to feel protected and safe. Plus health funds scare people into believing if they do not sign up now then they will be paying huge premiums in the future when they eventually join.

In my experience as a dentist I have seen plenty of patients have full comprehensive dental care, paid 100% from their own pocket. I would make a bet that they are saving thousands compared to those that pay high premiums to health funds, with respect to dental treatment.

I fail to see any “savings” or “smart investment” when health funds are involved as they are primarily there to take money off you. But what about those dentists who don’t charge any gap fee and let the health fund pay for the lot? I have written about this previously here. Essentially in a No Gap situation the dentist is not being paid the fair amount. The health fund sets the fee, and the dentist is bound to work at this half price rate. What sort of dentist would work at half price? You can answer that yourself. The way to make half price dentistry work is to do double the work and claim it all from the health fund. ie instead of having the filling you need, you will get 2 fillings to make it worthwhile for the dentist. Who is the loser then? The patient who is having unnecessary dental work done, that’s who.

The only benefit that I can see is that having private health prompts you to go to the dentist twice a year for the check up and cleaning. It’s like a gym membership that tries to make you get your money’s worth. Only you can actually get value at a gym because you can use it over and over. If this is the only benefit that private dental insurers give you then get yourself an app to remind you to go to the dentist – or set up a time of year that is regular like January and July. Save yourself thousands in premiums.

In a nutshell, don’t get private health for dental. Crappy dental rebates and overpriced premiums do not serve you. Just pay for the basics of what you need when you need it.