Dental Insurance for Individuals and Families
If you live in Hong Kong, it is important that you seek urgent treatment for periodontitis, gingivitis, mouth sores, tooth erosion, tooth sensitivity, and other oral health issues. Attending regular dental checkups can also help ensure that your dental health is in check and contribute to good overall health and hygiene.
Who Provides Dental Health Services in Hong Kong?
Dental health services in Hong Kong are mostly available through the private sector. Most dentists operate their own clinic or work under a small group of practitioners.
Government dental health clinics operated by the department of health mainly offer dental services to civil servants, their dependents, and civil servant pensioners. These facilities also provide limited emergency dental services such as tooth extractions to the general public. Specialist dental services may be available to the public but only for referred patients or hospitalized individuals with special dental care needs.
In addition to private and government dental practices, there are dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that offer dental services. These may include religious groups, labor unions, welfare organizations, or social service agencies. While the cost of dental services at these NGOs is lower than that of a private clinic, they typically target low socioeconomic demographics and disadvantaged groups such as the elderly and the physically handicapped.
Cost of Dental Care in Hong Kong
Private dental healthcare in Hong Kong can be very expensive, especially compared to neighboring countries. The Dental Council of Hong Kong has provided strict ethical guidelines regarding how dental practices should be advertised. But the government does not regulate how much these specialists charge for dental health services. As a result, dentists may charge whatever they want. There is usually a huge variation in fees from one clinic to the other. Patients can expect to pay between $500 HKD and $2,000 HKD for a simple consultation or checkup that doesn't even include fluoride or x-ray. Fillings could cost anywhere from $300 HKD and $500 HKD and teeth whitening can go for as much as 8,800 HKD.
What Does Dental Insurance in Hong Kong Cover?
Dental insurance Hong Kong is typically grouped into two categories:
→ Routine dental
This type of coverage takes care of routine dental procedures. These may include consultations, teeth cleanings, examinations, x-rays, root canals, simple fillings, and emergency dental treatments.
→ Major dental
This type of coverage will take care of major dental procedures. Treatments covered here include braces, tooth adjustments, periodontitis, gum disease, replacements, root scaling, crowns, and dentures. Major dental insurance plans are understandably more expensive than routine dental plans.
Who Needs Dental Insurance in Hong Kong
Many medical insurance plans in Hong Kong do not include dental coverage. This means you may be exposed to costly dental specialist treatment fees at a private clinic in the city. Including dental coverage to your existing health insurance plan (at a small fee) or purchasing the coverage separately can protect you from these expenses.
Dental Insurance Financing Options in HK
Hong Kong residents have a number of options when it comes to procuring a dental insurance plan:
→ Employer-sponsored dental health insurance
Many companies in Hong Kong provide medical benefits in order to attract and keep employees. These firms realize that by taking care of their employees, they can boost productivity and enhance business outcomes. It is important to note though that while employer-provided coverage may take care of inpatient or outpatient health services, it does not always include specialist services such as dental and vision. Hong Kong employees are encouraged to check the fine details of the coverage they receive from their employer to figure out whether adequate dental coverage is included.
→ Private dental insurance plans
Private dental insurance plans are the go-to option for individuals who do not have adequate employer-sponsored insurance. There are numerous insurance companies in Hong Kong offering dental insurance policies that are customized to diverse needs. You need to evaluate each policy on its own merit to figure out whether it is exactly what you are looking for. Our licensed and professional insurance agents at Trusted Union can help you wade through the different policy considerations.
→ Dental discount plans
Also commonly referred to as savings plans, these are not necessarily insurance but allow members to obtain dental services at minimized rates. You can purchase a membership by contributing a small annual amount. Services are provided by a network of member dentists. Dental discount plans allow you to reduce your dental expenditure by as much as 10 or even 20 percent.
Note: unless you have a comprehensive dental plan provided by your employer, purchasing a private insurance plan is the best way forward. This ensures that you (and your family) can access a wide range of dental services from qualified Hong Kong specialists without having to worry about paying expensive fees.
Important Dental Policy Considerations
When shopping for a good dental insurance plan in Hong Kong, it is important to keep the following factors in mind:
- Premiums and benefits - a ‘premium’ is an amount that you need to pay annually for dental coverage in Hong Kong. The ‘benefits’ refers to the actual treatments that the insurance company will reimburse the policyholder for. It is important to find the right balance between the premiums that you pay and the level of coverage you can expect. Dental insurance plans that have more benefits require higher premiums.
- Benefit limits - different dental plans have rules limiting the amount of coverage that you get. For instance, the policy may have lifetime limits or limits of expensive dental treatments. Some plans also restrict the number of annual visits to your dentist. It is important you find a policy that is flexible enough to allow you to get sufficient dental care throughout the year.
- Waiting Period - dental health insurance plans typically have a waiting period. This is the amount of time you must wait before the benefits of the policy start to trickle in. For most health insurance plans, this period can range from 3 to 12 months.
- Type of coverage - selecting the right type of dental insurance is paramount. Routine dental plans cover consultation and simple treatments such as teeth cleaning, root canals, and x-rays. Major dental plans - which are more expensive - take care of more specialized treatments such as crowns, replacements, periodontitis, and dentures.
- Cosmetic treatments - dental health insurance typically covers medically necessary treatments such as cavities and root canals. This means cosmetic treatments such as dental veneers and tooth whitening may be excluded. Find out exactly what kind of procedures you can expect the policy to cover.
- Deductible/excess - some policies include a deductible or excess. This means that you have to foot part of your dental treatment expenses before any claims can be filed with the insurance company. Let's say, for instance, that your dental care expenditure is $3,000 HKD and your deductible is $1,000 HKD. You'll need to contribute the $1,000 HKD amount while the insurance company takes care of the remaining $2,000 HKD.
- Pre-existing conditions - if you have an existing dental condition before you purchase the policy, then it may be excluded from coverage. Make sure to read between the fine prints or work with your Trusted Union agent to figure out the specific policy terms with regards to existing conditions.
- Provider network - some dental plans limit the providers you can seek treatment from. You may be required to use an existing network of providers, restricting you from working with dental specialists you already know and trust.
- International coverage - some policies allow you to access international dental coverage if you pay a bit more. If you travel a lot and would like to be able to seek treatment both within and outside Hong Kong, then this is an important policy inclusion.
How to Find the Right Dental Health Policy in Hong Kong
Hong Kong residents need to make numerous considerations when shopping for dental health insurance. You have to think about the annual cost of premiums, the limitations of the plan, waiting periods, provider network, and more. Without the right guidance, finding the right dental policy can be a daunting undertaking for most people. We recommend that you work with a licensed Trusted Union insurance adviser to ensure that you find the best dental plan to suit your precise coverage needs.
Dental Insurance FAQ
What dental services does the Hong Kong public health system provide?
Under the Department of Health, the Hong Kong government provides a number of dental services:
School dental care service - this service provides school-going children with basic and preventive dental care.
Oral health education - this service is designed to educate the general public on optimal oral hygiene practices.
Government dental clinics - HK government dental clinics offer emergency dental services such as tooth extraction and pain relief to civil servants and members of the public.
Oral maxillofacial surgery - this unit of the HK Department of Health provides specialist and emergency dental treatment to hospitalized patients and individuals who are referred by another doctor for maxillofacial surgery.
Do I really need dental insurance in HK?
Your HK-based company may provide employer-sponsored health insurance. However, this coverage may not include specialized services such as dental and vision. It is important to confirm what you can expect from your employer-provided plan. Many people realize that they need to purchase an individual policy to secure a level of coverage that sufficiently meets their needs.
Can I use my dental plan outside Hong Kong?
Most dental insurance policies issued by Hong Kong insurers have local coverage. This means you may only be able to utilize the coverage in facilities within Hong Kong. If you travel a lot and desire to be able to use your dental plan internationally (within and outside Hong Kong), then it is necessary to procure a policy that has global coverage.
How do I file dental care claims?
Once you are insured, the process of claiming dental coverage (after receiving dental treatment) may vary from one insurance company to the other. Generally, though, you'll be required to complete a comprehensive claim form and attach supporting documents within a few months after treatment.