Many people choose dental treatment on the NHS due to the lower prices. Yet others prefer the choice and quality available with private dental care. So could Dental Payment Plans make private prices easier to stomach?
I was surprised by the results of our recent survey of Which? members, which showed that over a third have paid for dental treatment with a Dental Payment Plan, compared to just 10% who held dental insurance.
Worryingly, of those respondents who took out Dental Payment Plans (DPPs), 17% of them admitted they felt pressured by their dentist into taking one out. Since the NHS provides subsidised treatment and access to NHS dental clinics, I wanted to find out why patients might be tempted to take out DPPs.
Why buy a Dental Payment Plan?
DPPs give patients the option to pay a set monthly fee for their dental treatment, which will vary depending on the type of work they might need doing. DPPs are usually used to fund private dental treatment, which is generally more expensive than the equivalent treatments on the NHS.
So why are people tempted by DPPs? In our survey, 35% of respondents said they chose a DPP to help them avoid unexpected bills, while 31% wanted to spread their dental costs rather than paying for treatment upfront.
The cost of these plans can vary from an average of £12.50 a month for a basic ‘maintenance plans’, which cover a set amount of routine examinations and hygienist visits over a year. But they can go up to £25 a month for the same cover plus any extra treatments.
However, DPPs are a good way to spread the cost of private treatment over a year, and your dentist can help you choose which plan is right for your level of oral health. It’s also important to remember there are no guarantees that your payments will cover the cost of the treatment you actually require over the course of a year.
Isn’t the NHS always cheaper?
For most people the cheapest option remains paying for dental treatment on the NHS. For example, the absolute maximum cost of any one bout of treatment will be £209 under current cost bandings. However, on the downside, it can be difficult for some people to find an NHS dentist near to where they live. Ultimately, some prefer the choice and quality available with private care.
But what’s your view on the best route to paying for treatment? Has your dentist tried to pressure you into taking out a DPP? Or do you think these plans offer better value or quality than paying for treatment on the NHS?