10 tips for saving money on dental prostheses, tooth cost trap

Dentures can be expensive. Those who choose the health insurance benefit usually have to pay half of the costs themselves, and with every care beyond that the personal contribution increases. Here are our savings tips:

Standard care is the cheapest solution for dental prostheses. Standard care is always scientifically tested and is by no means inferior.

If the health insurance benefits are poorly presented, you should know that dentists are required by law to provide comprehensive information to patients, including information about risks, costs and alternatives. Statutorily insured persons are entitled to standard care. However, dentists may have a financial interest in offering more to patients because they will then bill them in whole or in part according to the private fee schedule.

If you can prove that you have had regular check-ups with your dentist, you will receive an extra subsidy from your health insurance company in addition to the fixed subsidy.

Without a bonus, the statutory health insurance covers around 50 percent of the costs for standard care. Anyone who has visited the dentist once a year for at least five years receives 60 percent of the costs (the fixed subsidy increases by 20 percent). For at least ten years, it is 65 percent (the fixed subsidy increases by 30 percent).

Children and adolescents up to the age of 18 have to go to the dentist twice a year. The bonus booklet is issued from the age of 12. For adults, the dentist marks the “dental examination” box, for children and adolescents the “individual prophylaxis” box. The examination date and practice stamp are important.

In the best case scenario, supplementary dental insurance can cover 80 to 95 percent of the costs together with the share of the health insurance company, i.e. also for expensive dental prostheses, and thus significantly cushion a high own contribution.

However, the tariffs may differ considerably, which is why the details must be checked carefully before concluding a contract. The disadvantages:

  • In most cases, supplementary dental insurance does not cover all private co-payments at 100%.
  • In most cases, benefits can only be claimed after a waiting period.
  • Since an amendment to the Insurance Contract Act in 2013, insured persons have been able to request information on the scope of insurance cover before the start of treatment if the costs are expected to exceed €2000. However, in individual cases there may also be a right to information in the event of costs below €2000.

In addition, one should keep an eye on the total financial expenditure: The amounts range from 13 to more than 60 euros per month, depending on the contract and age of the insured person. That’s up to 720 euros a year.

In 2016, Stiftung Warentest examined 209 supplementary dental insurances in the magazine Finanztest.

Dentists with a health insurance licence are obliged to offer health insurance services. They must not present them as inadequate and must not make treatment dependent on a private additional benefit.

Use your right as a patient and ask exactly for the possible alternatives:

  • What is the standard care in my case?
  • Is a bridge with another material cheaper?

The possibilities for dental prostheses have never been as numerous as they are today. Let us explain to you the advantages and disadvantages, the durability as well as your private share of costs for several variants.

On Internet sides patients can upload the welfare and cost plan of their dentist and receive from the dentists registered there by auction counter-offers – often clearly more inexpensive. Stiftung Warentest praised the advantages of the competition in 2006.

However, it can be complicated to enter the data of the treatment and cost plan correctly, and in case of contact, the new treatment plan of the new dentist may differ from the offer.

However, a price comparison on the Internet does not mean an obligation. In any case, you can negotiate better with your own dentist.

Studies have shown that dental treatment plans with the same findings can be very different, even in terms of costs. For this reason, a comparison is particularly useful for expensive and extensive planning.

Specially qualified dentists at the patient advisory centres of the Kassenzahnärztliche Vereinigungen und Zahnärztekammern will check free of charge the treatment and cost plan, the type of therapy proposed and the amount of their own contribution.

General information on new treatment methods, treatment alternatives, risks and costs can also be obtained from the regional patient advisory centres of the dental profession.

The health insurance funds also offer second opinions from doctors, sometimes with their own doctors or cooperating centres.

You can save money if you are treated by dental students. Because in the university hospital the fees for the dental prosthesis are reduced or only material costs are calculated. Some patients also receive financial compensation because the treatment takes longer because every step is discussed and checked several times.

Another advantage: Dental students are usually very motivated, even in advanced semesters, and supervision by assistants and senior physicians is guaranteed.

Fillings, dentures or periodontitis treatments are possible, always in a separate treatment area. The only exceptions are usually extensive surgical and orthodontic therapies.

Find out from the Federal Association of Dental Medicine Students in Germany which university clinic has an affiliated dental clinic.

“Free dental prosthesis” means: You get dental prosthesis without own additional payment. This is normally only possible in cases of financial hardship, but also under these conditions: Cheap dental prostheses from abroad are used AND the treatment with standard therapy is chosen, which the statutory health insurances have defined as standard care. In addition, the bonus booklet usually has to be kept for ten years without any gaps.

Attention: If you deviate from the standard restoration and decide for a “similar” or “different” restoration, e.g. for a tooth-colored full veneering of a metal crown or bridge or for an implant instead of a bridge, you have to pay the additional costs yourself.

If dental prostheses are manufactured abroad and used in Germany, this can significantly reduce costs. Material and laboratory costs make up a large part of the bill. Quality from China, for example, does not have to be worse than that of German dentures.

Several, mostly small, studies concluded that there were no significant differences in quality between foreign and locally manufactured dentures. However, the crowns, bridges or prostheses should comply with the German CE standard and the regulations of the Medical Devices Act.

Discuss the decision with the dentist. It is helpful to have a German cooperation laboratory, which checks the quality of the dental prosthesis and takes over possible subsequent improvements.

Treatment in Southern or Eastern Europe can be significantly cheaper than in Germany. But: In the case of dental prosthesis treatment abroad, a treatment and cost plan must be approved by the health insurance company before the start of treatment.

Clarify how many appointments are necessary for the treatment and how many employees in the practice speak and understand German. Insured persons must pay the bill to the foreign dentist and then receive the fixed subsidy from the health insurance company. Travel and accommodation costs should also be taken into account when planning costs.

The catch: If problems occur after treatment, patients are usually worse off than in Germany.

It is advantageous if the clinic abroad cooperates with a clinic or dentist in Germany so that possible improvements can be carried out there.

The treatment contract abroad should be concluded on a German legal basis in order not to have to dispute an action abroad in the event of complaints or lawsuits.

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Christina Cherry
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