Working overseas is an exciting and rewarding journey for expat employees around the world. Most expats consider obtaining global medical care as a priority; however, many expatriates forget about their dental health, which is not only important for your teeth and appearance but also critical for your overall health. Dental treatment abroad can be very expensive and is almost certainly private. Expat dental insurance is one of the top priorities in your organization’s global benefit plan. In this article, we will discuss the importance of dental coverage and how to obtain dental insurance for expat employees working and living abroad.
Why Visit the Dentist?
This may seem obvious, but according to recent findings presented by the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two major threats to dental health among adults. And according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 64.7 million people aged 30 or older have periodontitis, which is a more severe and destructive form of gum disease. Furthermore, several pieces of research have shown that gum disease and complications could lead to heart disease and diabetes.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
With preventive dental care, your dentist can examine your teeth for cavities when they are still minor conditions. For people who smoke or have pre-existing dental problems, this is especially important. A dentist can examine your mouth for any irregularities before they become worse. If expat employees are relocating abroad with family and children, dental coverage should be one of your top considerations along with international health insurance. Prevention is crucial and can help keep dental costs low and also help with employee productivity.
The Cost of Dental Care Abroad
The cost of dental care abroad will often vary greatly based on your expat country of assignment. Some countries or regions offer excellent dental care and facilities, but often at a charge or higher price. Your overall dental care cost can vary dramatically in different regions around the world. For example, in Singapore and Hong Kong, dental practices are 100% private and incredibly costly; while many third world countries will offer dental care a fraction of the costs in North America.
Finding Expat Dental Care
Your global benefit plan may provide a list of dental clinics which will be able to direct bill the dentist overseas, but most will want to have the employee pay the bill directly and then have the expat obtain reimbursement from the insurer. The other expat employees in the country may also be able to refer your new employees to a reputable dentist. One should always examine the facility before obtaining dental care to look for credentials and see if the clinic is practicing proper hygiene practices. Some expats may prefer a Western-trained dentist, but most countries dentists will be properly trained and regulated.
Expats Prefer Private Dental Care
For those countries with a public dental healthcare system, expatriates may still want to use the private dental care system. This is not only because they can avoid the long waits for medical appointments in the public medical care system, but also the access to English speaking dentist and medical staff. An appropriate international health insurance plan with dental coverage affords you the option of choosing a private dentist, standard routine check-ups, and a higher level of dental treatment such as scaling and repairs. Therefore, taking out an international health insurance plan is essential if wishing to receive treatment from a private dentist as an expat employee.
Standard Dental Care Coverage for Expats
There are usually three types of dental plan covered by insurers:
1. Regular Dental Care
- Emergency care
- Root canals
- Regular anesthesia
- Tooth cleaning
- Consultations and examinations
- Occlusion bar
- Simple fillings
2. Large Dental Operations – Restorative
- Root scaling
- Tooth adjustment
- Periodontists care
- Membrane care
- Bridgework and repairs
- Gingivitis care
- Temporary crowns, porcelain crowns and gold jackets
- Ortho expenses for dependent children, usually up to a $1500 lifetime maximum.
For people with pre-existing dental issues, after a specified waiting period, insurers may cover pre-existing dental issues depending on the policy provider. Most plans will have a waiting period for orthodontics.
How to Obtain Dental Coverage for Expat Employees
Expat Financial can source group insurance benefit plans that provide both local and global medical coverage for expat employees, including dental care. We are not able to source dental only expat plans – the coverage must be part of a group global medical plan. The plan designs for dental can include coinsurance and deductibles to help lower the costs. In most instances, dental rates for expats will be below what is seen for domestic employees in Canada or the USA. The rates will, of course, depend on the expat population demographics – such as age and country location. We can also source dental coverage as part of a global medical plan for individual expatriates when needed.