How useful is additional dental insurance?


Lerato Khumalo

Most people pay a lot of attention to how their teeth look. Dental treatments can be very expensive. Is additional dental insurance worthwhile?

According to statistics, around 17.93 million people aged 14 and over have taken out additional dental insurance. And the trend is rising. Prevention and education are also getting better and better. The share of dental health costs in health insurance companies has been declining for years, says Angelika Brandl-Riedel from the German Dental Association (DZV).

If dental treatments become significantly more expensive over the course of a person’s life due to caries, inflammation or sensitive tooth necks, doesn’t additional dental insurance protect against high costs by significantly reducing the co-payment?

Despite restrictions, there are many dental services that are partially or fully covered by statutory health insurance. Gold alloys and implants, for example, are not included. In principle, costs are covered for adequate, appropriate and economical dental treatment. “Without a bonus booklet, this fixed subsidy amounts to 60 percent of the standard services defined depending on the diagnosis,” says Peter Grieble from the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Advice Center.

If you have a complete bonus booklet for the past five years, you will receive a 70 percent subsidy; if you can prove that you have had a complete pension plan for ten years, you will receive 75 percent. The insured person must pay for everything else themselves.

In contrast to statutory health insurance companies, private insurers cover additional services or pay 100 percent of treatment. The more reimbursement, the higher the premiums are, as a rule, says Grieble.

Since there are other types of insurance that are more important at certain stages of life, it is important to consider whether taking out additional dental insurance is necessary at the moment. Private liability insurance, occupational disability insurance or car insurance also cost money and must fit into the monthly household budget. Grieble recommends prioritizing the policies. “Otherwise you will have insurance for lesser risks, but no money will be left for the more important ones.”

Young people generally have fewer problems with their teeth and do not need additional dental insurance. However, if you value particularly white teeth or want high-quality dentures, such as implants, alloys, bridges or crowns, you may be well advised to take out additional dental insurance, according to the consumer advice center. “Statistically, dentures are only needed from the age of mid-30s to early 40s,” says Grieble.

An artificial tooth root including bone reconstruction with a screwed-on metal-ceramic crown can cost 4,000 euros or more. Dentists bill almost all of their fees privately. Some private insurers offer 100 percent reimbursement for plastic fillings or periodontal treatments, for example, and 75 to 100 percent reimbursement for crowns and bridges or implants. Private insurance also makes higher co-payments for teeth cleaning up to a set maximum amount.

When it comes to additional dental insurance, it is important to know that dental problems that exist at the time the contract is taken out are often excluded from the insurance. Typical questions from insurers could be: Are you missing teeth that have not yet been replaced? Are you currently undergoing dental treatment? Do you have a medically diagnosed tooth misalignment or jaw abnormality? Bad teeth or old age can mean that you do not receive an offer at all or only one with very high monthly premiums.

Have treatment costs approved by the insurer

Anyone who is actually thinking about taking out insurance can postpone or even suspend any upcoming treatments until the protection takes effect, says Brandl-Riedel. “This applies as long as the tooth is not acutely diseased and is well cared for.”

If you have taken out additional dental insurance and need treatment, ask your doctor to prepare a preliminary cost estimate that you can submit to your insurance company. This way you can be sure that the costs for the procedure will be covered and that you will not end up having to pay part of the costs yourself.