Dental Tourism – How Safe is it
Dental Tourism – How Safe is it?
Dental tourism is often the first “toe in the water” medical tourism experience for a person traveling from their home country for treatment. Why are they willing to travel?
Dentistry in some countries, and definitely in the U.S., can be outrageously expensive and is often not covered by insurance plans – or if it is covered the limits are so low as to leave the “insured” with hefty out-of-pocket expense.Affordable dental care is what dental tourism delivers.
Also, dental tourism is considered “light-medical” which means the medical treatments don’t slow you down or get in the way of enjoying the vacation aspect of medical tourism.
Cost savings, safety, and a great personal experience are equally important, so we address that online at www.tourismdentalindia.com by facilitating unfiltered conversations with real patients – as opposed to marketing promises.
Trust and Safety
I really can’t stress enough how important it is to know before you go the reputation of a dental clinic and exactly what you require based on a treatment plan provided by your local dentist.
Here are some helpful tips and stories to explain their importance:
Start with a treatment plan from your own dentist
- First of all, I suggest a visit to your local dentist where you get an exam, x-rays and a treatment plan. This also gives you the price that you can compare to what you will be paying abroad.
Unfortunately I’ve heard more than one story about a person who books an appointment with a clinic thinking, “I just want some fillings replaced and one crown, etc.” only to report back that they felt they were “up-sold” into having full-mouth restorations just because the price seemed so reasonable.
The practice of “upselling” is a universal problem. That’s where comparisons help. Here’s hint: Allow a dentist to come up with their own treatment plan before you discuss and compare plan differences.
I can personally vouch for an experience in Mexico where an ethical dentist explained and showed me in x-rays why I didn’t need all the work done stated as required immediately by my local dentist.
So, I’m saying be sure you have a treatment plan and price for the sake of comparison when you travel for dental care.
Trust but verify referrals
- Don’t rely, solely, on the referral of a friend or relative. I’m sure the referral is well intentioned and probably a very good place to start your search for a dentist. Here’s the problem: A dentist that does a great job for your cousin might just be doing a specific type of work – but if your cousin just had light maintenance type dentistry done and you are considering more extensive work then that referral is not adequate for you.
- Insist that the dentist doing the work is the one certified to do the work. I have heard of dental clinics that display on their websites the proper certifications of dentists in their specialty, e.g., root canal, etc. but in reality allow “assistants” or general dentists to do the work.
- Your safest bet is to book your travel through a dental tourism facilitator who affords you the “peace of mind” of medical travel within a “bubble” of safety. Don’t assume it’s going to cost more to go through a facilitator – it can save you money, time and stress. So, again, how do you know which dentist or facilitator to book with?
- BEFORE you talk to a dentist or a facilitator talk to other patients who have had done the type of work you require and have used the dentist or facilitator services you are considering. Insights shared among patients can provide the clarity and depth that newspaper articles or marketing sites cannot.
Talk to other dental patients in an online waiting room environment
For example if you’re considering a full mouth restoration, talk to:
Cindy Lindquist, a hairdresser from Anchorage Alaska. Says Lindquist, “My U.S. dentist told me I was going to need everything capped, that I’d need root canals, and that it was going to run me between $40,000 and $50,000 – OR that I could have all of my teeth pulled and dentures put in for a little over $12,000.”
“What it did cost me for a full mouth restoration in Costa Rica was $11,500,” said Lindquist,” and after all travel expenses, including airfare and accommodations for nine days, my total out of pocket was $13,120. That’s a $30,000 savings!
Talk to experts in travel for treatment
- Contact medical trip facilitators recommended by their clients and patients on our community. Talk to Travel agents who specialize in insuring medical travel and who offer special discounts to members.
- Read and participate in groups discussing tips on health travel. Learn about travel warnings associated with specific destinations. Initiate contact with experts discussing both the advantages and risks associated with medical travel.
- Travel with a Dental Tourism India that identifies you as a member of an organization authorized to rate and report on the services provided.
Travel with the assurance of belonging to a Group
This sends a very positive and powerful statement that if a provider treats you well they will have access to a loyal data base of members.
- To best serve our members, we are establishing a patient-generated “Winners Corner” of providers and a corresponding provider “Dog House”. Winners are those who do right by their patients. The Dog House becomes a list of those who are exposed, by members, for being unethical, unsafe providers.
As a consumer, Traveling4Health is on YOUR side. We intend to acknowledge providers who treat our members well and reward them with access to a loyal membership base of potential customers.
What does this mean for providers and travel facilitators who need to meet or exceed client expectations once they have a client signed on for a medical or dental travel event?
Client input and feedback is essential before, during and after a travel event. Some simple tips or thoughts that might be helpful include:
Many hospitals and providers have translation services, which is great but there will be times when a translator is just not available. Foreign nurses and attendants should not be expected to speak the language of each client.
Here’s a scenario: Mr. or Mrs. Midwest U.S. traveler or for that matter any client, awakens in a foreign hospital bed and is thirsty or hungry, has minor or major pain, is uncomfortable with something or has other issues. The client signals for the nurse or attendant who then shows up but language barriers inhibit communication. Here are some ideas that could help with these situations:
Portable Internet-enabled Monitor w/wireless Keyboard
Google and Microsoft both have web site translation software that could be creatively deployed to help hospital staff communicate with clients or patients. The device could be setup near the bed for the patient to utilize for also communicating with their employer, family members or friends. Video chat software such as: Skype, Google, Yahoo and other similar free software can help with this. Any device costs could be built into the overall event package price.
Cheat sheets could be created with client input by the travel facilitator before departure to the destination provider. It could include categories such as: medical or procedural terminology related to the specific treatment or diagnosis, special dietary needs or requests, unique client interests and other categories, phrases and words that mostly likely could come up during the client’s trip.
It is very important to keep in close contact with the client on the many issues and questions that will come up before, during and after the entire travel event. Nothing is more frustrating than sending an e-mail or leaving a message for someone to return a call and that individual does not reply in a timely manner or never responds. Additionally, determine with the client, before they depart, what are their preferred methods for communications.
Make sure the client is comfortable, with all necessary precautions in place, in order to ensure their safety during the entire trip. Safety measure should address: transportation guidelines, written provider safety precautions, and post operative recovery and leisure activities.
Make sure clients are aware of the particular weather conditions at the time of their travel. However appropriate clothing can be purchased upon arrival and often at much lower prices than in the client’s own country.
Hopefully this article stimulates some ideas and food for thought. There are many challenges in gaining the trust of the medical or dental traveler. Safety is probably the number one concern for the client. As we learn more about each client’s expectations, we can apply this to continuously improving our internal processes.
Dental Care: America’s Unspoken Health Crisis
Why you are paying through the mouth and what to do about it
PART l: Dentistry in America
The cost of dental care has been rising, no question about that. If you have been to the dentist recently and needed any major work, the estimates for procedures from root canals to implants can leave you more numb than that last shot of Novocaine.
The eyes of America have been focused for more than a year on healthcare reform. If you are a middle-class Baby Boomer (like I am), you probably have some form of healthcare coverage. That day you go to the dentist and get an estimate for work that can easily top $10,000 or more, you realize,” I have no dental coverage. That dental bill has to be paid, out of my own pocket and likely out of a lifetime of savings.” You were not anticipating that, and you are not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, by the age of 65, 46% of Americans have lost 6 or more teeth. More than 20% have no teeth at all. What can someone do who wants to keep their teeth but who also wants to keep some money in their bank account (assuming they even have that money)?
The rising cost of dentistry
Dental costs have risen, as expected, since the 1950’s, at much the same pace as medical costs (Figure 1). The increase took a dramatic turn in the late 1980’s, tripling over the past thirty years.
The years have been good to dentists. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the income of both general dentists and specialists tripled between 1982 and 2000 (Figure 2) and have continued to increase.
Dentists went from being the “also-ran” professionals to the envy of the medical field. Physician workloads have increased with paperwork and reimbursement issues making private practice unmanageable for many doctors. Rather than running faster to stay in place (as many physicians do), dentists are making more than ever working the traditional four-day week.
Dental Insurance in the US: does it even exist?
Looking at the statistics, about 50% of Americans have no dental insurance (80% of Seniors). For every adult without medical insurance, three have no dental insurance according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Compare this to the estimates we hear about healthcare insurance, which assume 10% of Americans have no coverage. The staggering disparity in dental coverage has not factored at all in the current healthcare debate.
And those who do have dental insurance find themselves largely in the same boat as the uninsured. For years, most dental policies have been capped at about $1500/year, which pays for a few fillings and cleanings. This is why dental insurance premiums have hardly changed over the years. Expensive dental care has to be paid out-of-pocket by even the insured. So in effect, few if any Americans are covered for expensive dental care.
The healthcare debate rages, but mouths are closed about dentistry
Why is dentistry not a priority, in fact, not even an issue in the current healthcare bill?
Dental spending by the Federal government accounts for less than 5% of their overall healthcare spending. As such, the Federal government has no more interest in escalating dental fees as it does not affect their deficits. Federal spending is largely limited to programs to get minimal care to the poor. And even less fortunate Americans do not get the care that they need.
Burton Edelstein Professor of Clinical Dentistry and Clinical Health Policy & Management at Columbia University offers a reason why dentistry is not even on the radar screen for the poor. Washington policymakers “tend to come from the segment of the population that has not experienced this type of problem. And if you’ve never had a toothache, you’ve never had a toothache.”
In an April 2009 letter, John S. Findley, D.D.S. president of the American Dental Association makes the case for the need for government to upgrade services to the needy, but pays scant attention to those who have to pay for service.
When questioned at a recent Town Hall meeting about how the government plans to deal with dental care, the President offered this advice, ”Floss. Am I right? You’ve got to floss.
Rich or poor, except for expected reductions in the allowances granted by Medicare Advantage, don’t look for the new healthcare plan to offer any relief.
The Global Economy: Dark cloud for dentists, ray of hope for consumers
In his international bestseller, The World is Flat, Tom Friedman analyzes global competition in the 21st century. The title is a metaphor for viewing the world as a level playing field for commerce. As geographic barriers fall, all players have access to the same information, which in turn provides equal opportunity for all.
Standards of training and care are similar across the industrialized world. Physicians and dentists fly around the world for training and conferences and essentially best practices are similar everywhere.
Stewart Hirsch, associate dean of New York University College of Dentistry said, “Every year we bring to NYU 110 dentists from 33 countries, train them in advanced procedures, and then they go home. There is no reason to assume the quality of care is any lower overseas.”
Globalization has provided some benefits for dentists. Many use off-shore laboratories as far away as India or China to get better prices on bridges, crowns and dentures.
The rise of dental tourism is an offshoot of the global economy that may benefit patients but not be as pleasant (for dentists). Me and more Americans are leaving the country to get dental work. It’s called dental tourism and you can get quality care at a fraction of US prices, but it’s not for everyone.
The process of Dental Tourism is very simple and has several easy steps:
1. Contact us for FREE and specify what problems You have with Your teeth.
TIP: : In order to get a more accurate calculation of the total cost and duration of Your dental treatment, besides the description of the tooth problem it is recommended to send us a digital or/and panoramic x-ray and diagnosis from Your local dentist.
2. Our dentists will analyze Your case and within three working days we will answer You, indicating the cost of Your dental treatment in India. We will also mention the approximate price of accommodation, meals, local transportation, and optional of translators, excursions and entertainment. In other words – NO HIDDEN expenses, so that You being home, could calculate the benefits of appealing to our dental services.
3. After you have seen for yourself that Dental Treatment in India is indeed advantageous, please contact us again to specify the period You prefer for Your Dental trip, so we could book a hotel and make proper reservations at the dentist for You. We can help You with finding low cost flights, but if You buy the ticket by yourself, please, DO NOT FORGET to notify us of the date and time of arrival so that our representative could arrange Your meeting.
4. On the day of arrival our representative will meet You at the airport, bus or railway station and will take You FREE of CHARGE to Your hotel or apartment and will help to accommodate. On Your choice, in the same or next day You will be transferred to the dental clinic. The dentist will examine You and will schedule the visits. You won't have to get to the Dental Clinic yourself. Each time our representative will drive You to the dentist and back to the hotel.
Usually Dental Procedures don't last long, so You will have a lot of free time between dental visits. Depending on your wishes and on schedule drawn up by the dentist, we can arrange for You excursions to the sights and museums, you can go to a restaurant or cinema, walk through shopping malls and fairs. The more active "patients" can play bowling or go to a nightclub. Ladies will appreciate the Indian beauty clinics and SPA – salons (btw, all also at very attractive prices) and wine tour (with tasting) to the famous wine cellars – real underground cities will not leave you indifferent.
5. On the day of Your departure, when your dental work is perfectly finished our representative will pick You up and will take You FREE of CHARGE to the airport, bus or railway station.