Private dental insurance a must for expats in China

Published:  22 Feb at 6 PM
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Relocating to many world destinations is easy of there’s a job waiting, together with housing, health and other packages, but it’s not so straightforward if you’re going it alone.

Many independent expats are now aware of the need to research healthcare standards in their chosen country, with a good number deciding on private health insurance giving access to higher standards and the chance of finding an English speaking consultant if necessary. In the rush to get everything covered before leaving the home country, dental care may be sidelined, especially as most private health policies list it as an expensive optional extra.

For the increasing numbers of expat entrepreneurs heading for China, it should be understood that costs for dental care vary hugely between local hospitals and private clinics offering Western-trained dentists with English proficiency. Historically, dental care isn’t a priority in China, but the supply of well-trained professionals is being outpaced by demand from Westernised Chinese and the ever-growing number of expats. Data suggests there are 100 dentists for every million Chinese, many fewer than in most expat hubs, with around 90 per cent of the population affected by dental problems.

Dental insurance in the huge country comes as two packages, routine and major, with the routine coverage including consultations, cleaning, fillings, extractions, X-rays, prescriptions and emergency treatment. The more expensive major coverage also includes gum treatments, bridgework, orthodontics, dentures, crowns and root scaling. As they’re not mentioned, it’s possible that implants and veneers would not be included.

Most Chinese dental insurance plans require a waiting period between payment and the commencement of coverage, with wait times varying between one and 24 months. Expats who intend to travel around Asia from a base in China should note that up-to-date dental care can be had via a short flight to India, Thailand or Malaysia, although the last two options are verging on the expensive nowadays and are likely to be more so in the near future. Policies will need to be globally portable if travel is on the cards.
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