Dental Insurance in India
What is Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance is an insurance to protect people against dental costs. It insures against the expense of treatment and other aspects of oral health care. Procedures may as diagnostic, preventive or curative. Certain procedures that are generally covered under dental insurance include routine examinations, dental x-rays, filling of carious teeth, root canal procedures, tooth extractions, dentures, dental implants and so on. Prevalence of dental diseases in India is quite high, for instance dental caries, gum diseases, tooth loss and so on. Dental insurance, thus has a large untapped market and it’s high time that more focus be given towards this potential by the insurance regulator, service providers and professional bodies.
Dental Insurance – Indian Scenario
Unlike most western countries, like American dental insurance, specific dental insurance plans are not common in India. In India, dental insurance is mostly clubbed with health insurance and available under the general health insurance plans. These plans do not cover dental ailments exclusively and mainly the hospitalization and medicinal costs arising due to a dental emergency are covered. Few of the existing policies provide dental coverage under various policies of general, health, and life insurance companies. Apart from these, there are some employers, namely, Indian Army and Public Sector Undertakings banks which provide reimbursement for dental treatments.
Dental insurance – A potential game changer in Indian dental practices?
One of the reasons for not visiting dentist among the public in our country is financial barrier. If dental insurance is made available for all, people would be more than ready for seeking dental care. This in turn can result in reducing the burden of dental diseases. Dental insurance can thus help in avoiding the expenses of future dental treatment. India is a country with very price sensitive market. So, being insured would be a boon for one and all.
How to choose Dental Insurance policy?
- Freedom to visit Dental surgeon of your choice: Some of the policies might restrict the patient by giving a panel of dentists or designated hospitals so as to claim the dental insurance benefits. A good dental insurance policy should provide freedom to patients choose their doctor.
- Decision maker – patient, dentist or the insurance company ?
Many plans require dentists to follow treatment plans that rely on a Least Expensive Alternative Treatment (LEAT) approach. If there are multiple treatment options for a specific condition, the plan will pay for the less expensive treatment option. If the patient chooses a treatment option that may better suit his individual needs and his long-term oral health needs, he will be responsible for paying the difference in costs. It is important to know who makes the treatment decisions under his plan. These cost control measures may have an impact on the quality of care provided to a patient.
- Extent of coverage
While preventive care lessens the risk of serious dental disease, additional treatment may be required to ensure optimal health. A broad range of treatment can be defined as routine. Most plans cover 70-80% of such treatment. When it comes to major dental treatments, plans may not be very generous. They may cover up to 50 % of the charges. Some plans limit referrals to specialists. Even that aspect needs to be considered as few treatments might need specialists.
- Waiting period
Some of the insurance plans have longer waiting period. It is important to understand the terms of the policies so as to have benefits from the insurance policies.
Dental Insurance Schemes available in India
Here is a list of various policies that provide dental insurance. One can go through the available policies and contact the service provider so as to choose the scheme that best fits for that individual or the family.
- Bajaj Allianz Tax Gain Plan
- ICICI Lombard General Insurance Health Advantage Plus policy
- Apollo Munich Maxima Plan
- Bharti Axa Smart Health
- LIC Health Protection Plus
- SBI Life Smart Insurance
There are few central and state government insurance schemes too. They are as follows:
- Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana
“It is wise to go through all the terms and conditions before buying a policy.”
Is it really worth it? Do we really need a dental insurance? These sorts of questions keep lingering around. However, having covered by a good dental insurance policy can definitely help to reduce your burden when in need. On other hand, insurance companies must realise the potential in dental insurance and come forward with standalone policies with better offers and advantages to the public. Policy makers and governments must encourage on this regard. Dental insurance can be a real game changer for dental practitioners, insurance companies and the general public too.