Free Money For Dental Work – This is a self-instruction article worth 1 CE credit. Exercises can be purchased and answered/submitted for personal instruction.
As health care costs continue to rise, many Americans and Canadians are making tough decisions about their health, sometimes even forgoing preventive care routines as a way to save money. This includes dental care, which can result in patients needing even more expensive and time-consuming care.
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For one thing, many Americans and Canadians choose to save money on expensive dental treatment because they have to work less abroad. Medical and dental peregesis – sending patients to other countries for cheaper medical or dental care – has happened throughout history, and is as common today as ever. The entire industry revolves around connecting patients with care in other countries. However, patients should consider some important questions before considering going to a foreign country for any type of dental treatment: Do the cost savings outweigh the risks of committing to an oral health dentist in another country? What research do you do to get the right dentist? And, dentists who hear patients expressing interest in dental tourism, what advice can they provide to help get the best results?
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Medical and dental tourists travel to other countries for a few reasons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there may be some immigrants who want to return to their home countries. Others travel because a specific procedure or treatment is not available in their country. Many others go for specialized treatments that cost much less. CDC reports that patients travel mainly to other regions for medical/plastic surgery, dental treatment, and heart surgery.
How many patients can he save? According to Patients Beyond Borders, a company that conducts medical research in other countries to inform medical tourists, the top 10 destinations for dental tourism among US patients are Mexico, Thailand, Hungary, Spain, Poland, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Turkey and the Czech Republic. US patients can expect to save 40%-65% in Mexico, 45%-65% in Costa Rica, and 50%-75% in Thailand.
Below are the average costs for several common procedures in each of the top 10 dental tourism destinations.
How are such savings for patients in these countries possible? In Mexico, as in the country, the cost of living is much lower than in the United States and Canada, making it easier for dentists to own and practice. In addition, dentists in Mexico are not required to pay for malpractice insurance. Mexican dentists also tend to take out less interest loans than American dentists because of government subsidies. These resources provide one year of free after-school service.
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Many patients associate dental care with vacation. The news media is full of testimonials from patients who have saved thousands of dollars by seeking dental care in another country while on vacation. A
“It took a few days to make the crown, so my wife took a short flight and went to the Drake Bay area, where we snorkeled, swam and hung out around the mangroves,” he wrote to the reporter.
With airfare, lodging, food, and dental work, their total travel expenses totaled about $4,000 — about $1,000 less than out-of-pocket dental costs in the United States alone.
US-Mexico residents living on the US-Mexico border – or who want to drive there – can save even more by driving to Mexico instead of flying. Most of these dental care seekers travel to one destination – the town of Los Algodones.
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About a 30-minute drive from Yuma, Arizona, on the other side of the Colorado River, is the small Mexican town of Los Algodones, billed as the “Molar City.” The city only has about 5,000 permanent residents, but thousands of tourists visit the city every year to use about 350 dentists.
The economy of Los Algodones is built around dental tourism. A large number of dental offices also have access to the city’s many dental laboratories, which means dental work is done faster – and cheaper. Prices for the US are about a third of the cost of their counterparts, and some patients report even lower prices.
While many report successful dental procedures in Los Algodones, some have not been so pleasant. And, if patients return from Mexico and find that the work is subpar, they turn to local dentists for help.
Craig Barrow, DDS is a general dentist practicing in Yuma. He says about 90,000 tourists travel to Yuma and stay during the winter months – many of them Canadian – and many of these winter visitors take advantage of Yuma’s proximity to Los Algodones. He saw his share of patients, who were unhappy with the labor, and said that the American patients who traveled to Los Algodones “were completely used.” describes a patient who invested $25,000 worth of Los Algodon implants and came to him for follow-up care after he felt the implants were infected. No guarantees were made for the implants, which significantly outweighed the initially anticipated cost savings of the move to Mexico.
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With the growing popularity of dental tourism over the past 10 years, companies have been formed to research and design medical travel. Companies such as Patients Across Borders and Dental Departments connect patients with international healthcare providers through marketing services.
According to its website, Patients Beyond Borders is an aid to patients and health professionals. Founder and CEO Joseph Woodman says he has spent more than a decade “researching and vetting international options for quality, affordable medical care,” which includes dental care.
Powerful medical tourist companies can consult as patients outside the borders to choose from no respectable ones. Some of the company’s rules of use for health care sites include:
Another factor to consider is insurance. Some insurance companies, including GeoBlue (which is affiliated with Blue Cross Blue Shield), Aetna and Cigna, offer specific medical and dental coverage for people traveling outside the United States.
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Doing this saves insurance companies money because they pay much less for these policies than in the United States. Some employers have gone further and will cover all medical tourism trips for employees.
Barrow’s wife is a public school teacher. He says Yuma City administration workers and other public employees are aware his insurance covers his medical and dental care in Los Algodones – the last insurance card he specifically states is under his wife’s family policy, a policy accepted in Mexico. Barrow says there’s a downside to this, too, and a new patient who presented to his office with pain after having a cluster of fillings placed in nearly all of his molars in Mexico. At the patient’s request, Barrow restored all the fillings to relieve his pain. However, later problems arose because the patients’ insurance in Mexico already covered the less expensive fillings, so the request for reimbursement of the fillings was rejected by Barrow, leaving the patient to pay the money.
Medical tourism is broader than just North America; People also travel to other countries for dental care. This practice is also common in Europe. Britons often travel to Hungary, Slovakia and Poland at low cost.
Like Los Algodones, several European countries are making public their willingness to admit patients from high-cost countries. Both Poland and Croatia spend millions on public relations campaigns to promote medical careers.
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US citizens can also use these European markets. With a valid US passport, patients can visit a country in Europe’s Schengen area for up to 90 days without needing a visa.
The Schengen area includes three of the top 10 countries for global dental visits (Hungary, Spain and the Czech Republic).
While in Europe for dental treatment, American dental tourists can also visit other countries in the Schengen Area as part of their European vacation.
Within the European Union, several organizations work to provide a standard for the quality of dental education, and within the member states they ensure that freedom of movement for health professionals is facilitated.
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Currently, the Association for Dental Education in Europe promotes this mission in the education sector, and the European Dental Federation Competent Authorities and Regulators promote the standard in the clinical sector.
These services benefit all patients as the continuum of care increases, although US patients still need to anticipate regional and national differences in care.
Dentists meet patients who are in dental tourism. While the idea may not immediately deter you, all dentists emphasize one central point: Do your research.
The CDC advises that anyone seeking health care outside the United States should do research on medications, infection control, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They should also check the standards by which facilities are measured and accredited by organizations such as the International Accreditation Commission, DNV GL International Accreditation for Hospitals and the International Association for Hospitals.
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