Best Approach for a Dental Cover

I just enquired with Bupa about adding a dental cover (I had extras removed from my cover for quite some time) to my existing hospital cover with them. With increase of approx $45-50 in my family's total monthly premium, all I get in return is a general dental cover with $350 annual limit per person and maximum only 60% back when you make any claim. Needless to say, this annual limit doesn't make any sense; this level covers only basics (i.e. cleaning, filling) and you won't get back more than 60% of your spend back in any circumstances.

Please note that I am referring to the basic extras cover - anything above is far more expensive in terms of premium (for what it offers) and not even worth discussing here. I've checked with other insurance companies and their covers are very comparable. This keeps me wondering if there's no better way to get more effective and reasonably priced dental cover in Australia? Annual limits and cashback limits are so low (leave aside waiting period), that the incremental premium just doesn't seem to make any sense. There definitely needs to be some sensible provider for dental in the market, else it's so easy to be out-of-pocket by a few thousand $$ while still having a so called 'dental cover' and paying a significant 'extra' premium for it. Any good suggestions or thoughts?


  • +2 votes

    Move from BUPA, to a non-profit Health fund ASAP. You'll save in premium costs, but may not get any better dental coverage. My oral surgeon (recent dental implants) suggested most people would be better off self insuring for dental, i.e. deposit the dental extras premium in a dedicated fund, on the same cycle as paying health fund. Get an account with bonus interest for not withdrawing and regular deposits.


      You mean self-insuring by adding a fixed amount into a savings bank account (e.g. ING Savings Maximiser) monthly?

      Also, which non-profit health fund do you recommend if you have any in mind? Thanks.


        All funds have different products with different covers and different relationships with preferred hospitals.

        Shop around and see if a product has the inclusions you are seeking, along with coverage in your preferred hospital (if you care).

        You may find that a for profit health fund is better.


    Yes, self insuring exactly as you have described. As for health funds, check this site:


      Thank you. What concerns me is the amount of expense which is non-recoverable from insurance. Whilst self-insuring will ensure that I've certain fund dedicate to dental treatment available in bank account, it doesn't help me much with reducing my overall expense towards dental itself. It's too expensive and not great covers seem to be available in the market.

      • +1 vote

        Some people travel overseas for their dental work.
        You would need to explore the economics of that for your circumstances.

  • +3 votes

    Another option is to lobby your preferred federal government party to support a public dental health programme, similar to GP services.
    Those that can afford it could still seek out private providers.

    It has been talked about for a long time, but obviously not with enough noise to make the major parties take notice yet.

    Oh, it won't help you in the short term; sorry.


    Are waiting periods applicable when you move from one insurance company to another?


      Generally, yes. However, insurance companies from time to time will waive some waiting periods as part of a promotion.


    With increase of approx $45-50 in my family's total monthly premium, all I get in return is a general dental cover with $350 annual limit per person and maximum only 60% back when you make any claim.

    So for $600 a year, you're getting insurance cover of up to perhaps $1,400 ($350 per person times 4 people). And that this is the maximum you can get back in any year regardless of your dental requirements. Have I got the mathematics right here? If so, that seems expensive vs. self-insurance.


      That's correct though number were for 3 people in a family and it's considering the basic extras cover (higher cover means more annual limits and higher cashback % but much higher premium too). Also, 60% cashback per claim at Bupa-approved providers and maybe less at others, so it means that you need to spend much more to even get full $350 per person worth of benefit.


        Yep, well based on that I'd self-insure. Under "normal circumstances" I wouldn't expect to spend any more than $600 a year on dental for three people (and that's probably being generous), so you'd get back $360 there. So the net spend for you that year would be $840 (i.e. $600 premium, plus $600 dental costs, less $360 rebate). You end up being $240 worse off.

        Even if you can get the full $1,050 back, that means you would need to spend $1,750 on dental services. The net equation here is $1,300 (i.e. $600 premium, plus $1,750 dental costs, less $1,050 rebate). You end up being $450 better off.

        I think I'd rather be banking the $240 saving per year as described above and self-insure against the risk of the $450 described above.


          At 60%, you only need to spend $1000 to get $600 back. That's $333 per person. Many people can easily spend that much per person just on 2 dental + 1 optical per year. Besides, extras will cover if you need physio etc.

      • +2 votes

        Smile sucks. Dont go for it. I have paid them $$ in the past but since fees are not transparent compared to smile vs normal visit you might end up paying just the same amount.


          Ah, thank you both for pointing it out. I signed up with them, went to see a dentist once, didn't like the dentist and ended up going to my previous dentist and paid full price (didn't have extra cover).

  • +2 votes

    Self-fund and going overseas is generally the best deal.

    Extras by itself is generally not that useful and most of the time you are only just breaking even. Hospital cover is usually only important for tax purposes.

    Private health insurance has become more questionable in recent years as benefits have stagnated but fees have risen.

  • Top