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Dental health insurance in Hong Kong: Finding the ideal plan

Insurance coverage in Hong Kong is a peculiar thing. When it comes to securing private medical cover, there are many in the city that simply will not think about it, as they rely on the public healthcare system in Hong Kong and the low cost healthcare that it provides for their medical needs. At the same time, there are many people in Hong Kong for whom public hospitals simply will not do. For this group, the inefficiencies of local public healthcare, whether perceived or real, are such that they do what is necessary to secure private insurance coverage.

What about dental health insurance in Hong Kong, though? Does the public healthcare system succeed in adequately providing affordable care to everyone here, or are there also shortfalls present that would make families opt for private dental insurance? Furthermore, what does local dental insurance cover, and how does one go about finding the best dental insurance plan? Read on to find answers to these questions and more from Pacific Prime Hong Kong.

Individual Health Insurance Plans

Hong Kong dental treatment basics

Hong Kong locals may not seek out regular dental treatments, such as teeth cleanings, as often as people in other developed countries. For example, while in the U.S. it is recommended that people get their teeth cleaned twice a year, in Hong Kong this rate is only once a year or longer. Even official government documents have stated that some Hong Kong people are not inclined to get regular dental care. For instance, one such document states that: “elders in Hong Kong generally have low tendency to seek dental care services…”

The Hong Kong Department of Health provides dental health services to the SAR via a number of service programs. These include:

  • Oral health education – This unit educates people on oral health topics and oral hygiene practices. It also facilitates the proper use of oral healthcare services.
  • School dental care service – Primary school children can utilize this service to receive preventive and basic dental care.
  • Government dental clinics – These clinics provide emergency dental services for extraction or pain relief to the public, as well as dental services to civil servants and their dependents.
  • Oral maxillofacial surgery – This is a unit that provides specialist and emergency treatment to hospital inpatients and referrals for oral maxillofacial surgery.
  • Dental clinics with general public sessions – These clinics deal solely with extraction and pain relief treatments.

Such types of government subsidized dental care are quite affordable. Of course, that’s if you are a patient that is deemed eligible to receive it. As you might notice from the points above, each facet of Hong Kong’s public dental services comes with some requirements in order to receive subsidized care.

This is not to say that people in Hong Kong cannot avail themselves of government clinics for care, but said care may not at all be subsidized, thus leaving the patient to pay for it out of pocket.

For an example of this, one can check the Department of Health’s list of dental services fees, where we see that an extraction would be free of charge in the event of a medical emergency, while it will otherwise cost $1,190.

Also notice that nowhere in the Department of Health literature does it ever mention basic maintenance and teeth cleaning treatment. This is because it is largely up to Hong Kong residents to seek such care on their own through private dental clinics, or otherwise through non-governmental organizations. So, to be clear, the level of dental care provided to people via the local government is simply not on a comparable level as general inpatient and outpatient medical services in Hong Kong.

Finding the right plan

As you can see from the information above, in order to ensure that you are able to properly address any costs stemming from dental care in Hong Kong, it may be in your best interest to secure a private dental health insurance policy. After all, Hong Kong medical care is generally quite expensive. Furthermore, for many in the city, if dental care is needed, they will want to use a top-tier private dental care provider so that they know they will be receiving the best level of care available. This tends to drive costs even higher.

So, what does a good dental insurance plan look like? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Premiums and benefits – For those that don’t already know, the term premium refers to the annual price that is to be paid for an insurance plan, and benefits refers to the actual treatments and other items that an insurance plan will reimburse a policyholder for. Ensuring that you get all the benefits you want is important, but it should be noted that the more benefits you include, the higher your premium is likely to be. 
  • Benefit limits – Just having coverage for a particular benefit doesn’t mean you will always be covered for it. Sometimes there is a limit placed on the total amount that will be paid out for a particular benefit during a policy’s term. So if you have a benefit for getting teeth pulled that is limited to $2,000, and you have multiple teeth pulled during the course of a year which generates dental bills of $3,000, you will likely be on the hook for the remaining $1,000 after the insurer has reimbursed you for the $2,000 that is the benefit limit on your plan. 
  • Deductible/excess – Some insurance plans come with what is known as a deductible or excess. These terms generally mean an amount of money that is to be paid by the insured prior to any claims being paid out by the insurer. So, if you have a deductible of $1,000 on your dental health insurance plan, and you rack up a bill of $2,000, you will have to pay $1,000 for the treatment before your insurer will reimburse you for the other $1,000. 
  • Pre-existing conditions – If you already have any sort of chronic or known prior dental condition at the time you purchase a dental health insurance policy, this may be excluded as a pre-existing condition. Please note this when you begin your search for dental insurance, as it should not be assumed that you will be able to have such conditions insured in any way. 
  • International coverage – If you’re willing to pay a bit more for your dental insurance coverage, you can obtain an international dental insurance plan that will allow you to receive dental care both inside and outside of Hong Kong. This is different from local dental insurance plans, which will only provide reimbursement for care received within Hong Kong’s borders. 
  • Provider network – Sometimes a dental insurance plan will limit the care providers that the insured can go to and still receive insurance benefits. These networks can restrict policyholder choice, so it can pay to know if this is a feature of any policy. 
  • Employer-sponsored dental insurance – You may be thinking to yourself, “I already have insurance through my employer. I’m covered.” While this may be true, be sure to check the specific details of any medical insurance coverage provided by an employer. This is because, while most employers provide some level of medical insurance to employees, dental health insurance is often not included. Furthermore, you may find that the maximum benefit limits, specific benefits covered, deductible, or another factor is not what you would like it to be.

Get dental health insurance assistance

Now that you have the low down on the ins and outs of dental care and dental health insurance in Hong Kong, you may have decided that securing dental insurance is the choice for you and/or your family. Of course, with so many insurers and plans to choose from, identifying the best possible dental insurance plan for your particular needs can be difficult. Fortunately, there is help available!

An experienced insurance broker, like Pacific Prime Hong Kong, can do all the legwork for you when it comes to examining available dental insurance policies and their features. Our helpful insurance advisors will gladly present you with a comparison of plans from top insurance providers, answer any question you may have, and provide you with a price quote – all free of charge! Contact us today to find your ideal dental insurance plan.

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