Friday, May 18, 2012

Is It Worth It To Cross Borders For Dentistry?

Traveling to another country has become quite popular over the last few years for patients who want to have elective cosmetic surgery procedures and who need more extensive dental work done, especially for folks without insurance. This is all in the name of saving money. Let’s take a closer review, however. 

How much money can one actually save by crossing the border to have dental work, and what are the cost savings? In some cases, it is true, prospective patients can save 10%-40% (on average) for certain dental procedures, if Mexico was the destination of choice, for example. When we look at it in more detail, and particularly when we factor in associated risks, it is better to find an alternative close to home. Here are the risks of traveling outside of the US for dental healthcare:

Quality of care (customer service, language barriers)
Facilities/standards of treatment and sanitation (there is a difference)
Qualifications of healthcare provider (educational requirements , training, experience, etc)
Distance (average $120 for driving one way)
Patient rights (what are your rights)?
Recompense for unsatisfactory or poor work (how do you get reimbursed under different regulations)?
Improper diagnosis or care (this happens more than you think)
In Case of Emergency (what if, you have to return or schedule an appointment locally, at full-charge)
Gas Prices (average $3.80 per gallon of gas)
Safety (travel and location, is it safe)?
Travel Expenses (flight, hotel, dining)
Return Visits (follow up visits)
Logistics (work/family arrangements, getting from here to there and back)

Let’s break down the monetary ideals that typically draw patients away from their home state to have procedures in a foreign place. Most people look at the savings, like: “I am going to save thousands for crowns, implants, dentures, braces, and other cosmetic work.” 

We mention ideal, because there can be savings if all goes according to plan, but that is not always the case, which is why the subject of tourism has been a hot-topic for the last few years with associations and governing agencies. The truth is our teeth are part a greater anatomical network, regarding our healthcare. It PAYS to consider the quality of care and potential risks and set-backs, first.

Another word of caution would be whether an American dentist feels comfortable, or would be willing, to provide follow up treatment on dental services that were performed from locations that do not follow the "Standards of Dental Care" as outlined from the Arizona Board of Dental Examiners.

At American Dental Plan, we can save members and patients an average of more than 30% on all procedures, and lower their risks, because our providers offer top-quality care, right here in Arizona. 

Upon consideration of dental tourism, the costs and risks can be greater than you think.