Can you say “dentista?”
Increasingly expensive dental care costs are forcing seniors to bite down hard—and head to Mexico to preserve their pearly whites, the Associated Press reports.
Nearly 70 percent of seniors do not have dental insurance, according to a 2013 Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Oral Health America. Medicare does not cover dental care, and many employers do not offer post-retirement health benefits. You can get dental coverage through the Affordable Care Act, but only if you purchase general health coverage first. (Many seniors already have that coverage.)
Even with coverage, crowns, bridgework, implants and dental surgery can easily exceed the annual limit. As a result, seniors who need extensive dental work may have limited options and could face out-of-pocket costs running into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars; 23 percent of seniors in the Oral Health America survey said they have not seen a dental provider in five years.
Just as people traveled to Canada to buy their prescription drugs at lower cost or traveling the world for other medical services and procedures, more Americans are now flocking to places like Los Algodones, Mexico for dental care. Dental care in Mexico is much cheaper, thanks to lower labor costs and fewer regulatory requirements — factors that you should keep in mind before heading south of the border. The dentists in Mexico maintain that they may not have as much education as their American counterparts, but they spend more time practicing clinical work.
It’s not just people who live in border cities like El Paso, Texas crossing the border to take care of their teeth. The Associated Press reports that shuttle services exist to take dental patients from the Phoenix area to Los Algodones, a 200-mile trip.
Before you book a trip, though, remember that should something go wrong you may not have the same legal recourse as in the U.S., and the dentists may use different types of equipment--so do your research first.
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