There is a huge uncertainty around UK’s hot topic, the Brexit that pretty much affects every field as bilateral agreements with the member countries of the European Community will not be set-up on time. What does this mean to each and everyone and how are the effects on dental tourism?
Evergreen Dental is one of the favourite destinations for UK patients coming to Budapest for dental work therefore we closely examine the potential effects of Brexit.
Let’s examine the components of dental tourism to find out about the answer:
National Healthcare System
NHS – one of the big arguments for Brexit was the improvement of the National Healthcare System. Promises of additional funds allocated to NHS were made in return for saving payment obligations to the EU, however the situation at NHS has been getting worse and worse over the years. The reasons are a lack of improvement over decades, missing funds, the lack of enough qualified staff and a constantly growing demand from an ageing population. After Brexit the filling of the vacuum in staff with foreign qualified experts will slow down therefore a bigger gap between demand and supply is to be expected even though more funds will be allocated. The lack of funding over the past decades will not allow a fast catch-up in infrastructure and know-how even if the financing will improve significantly. The improvements will favour urgent treatments and dentistry especially tooth replacement is not considered as such. A BMA survey of over 1,500 EU doctors from the EU working in the UK have found that less than a quarter have faith in the Prime Minister’s commitment to protect their rights and over a third are planning to leave the country. Already 4,000 workers have left the Nursing and Midwifery Council already between 2017 and 2018.
At the same time waiting lists are constantly growing currently there are about 4 million patients waiting for NHS treatment. Due to this NHS is pushing patients to seek help abroad more than ever before. Currently close to 150.000 patients are opting for a treatment abroad every single year and the number is expected to be growing. It has grown from 20.000 over the past 15 years and had an exponential increase in the last 2 years and this trend is expected to get even quicker after Brexit. (source: treatmentabroad.co.uk)
The main concerns about dental tourism remain the same
The biggest question remains the quality and the aftercare. A common study of the Semmelweis University of Budapest and the Oxford University examined the guarantee cases in several different countries. The aspect was the need of aftercare following a dental treatment has been finished. The average European rate was 5,1% meaning 1 out of 20 patients had to go back for smaller adjustments or even bigger repair work. In Hungary this rate is 2,7% almost half the European average proving a very good quality. One should of course look for a certified, accredited clinic with a good reputation and expertise. The value for a certain price should be the main aspect when choosing a dental clinic.
UK dentist prices – due to the lack of qualified staff and the fact that foreign dentists will have a harder time settling in the UK prices are expected to go up over the next few years leaving especially lower and middle class people no other option than going abroad.
Flight prices – flight prices are a key aspect when it comes to dental tourism as one has to maybe travel two or three times abroad in order to finish a dental treatment. The good news is that flight prices are not expected to rise. The UK was the first country who established cheap airline fares to Europe starting already in the 90’s and the competition is huge. The Irish company RyanAir and the Hungarian low-fare company WizzAir are operating several flights every day at very affordable prices, a return ticket is available for somewhat £ 50-120 from several UK airports making it very easy to fly out for treatment. Looking at the potential in savings (in average £5000 per dental tourism patient) has a vanishing effect on flight and accommodation prices. Some dental clinics offer accommodation in partnering hotels or apartments for £40-60 / night depending on the season. Additionally many dental clinics offer a free airport pick up and in-city transfer service allowing easily calculable travel costs.
So if a dental patient seeks for a set of implants like an All-on-4 treatment he/she faces overall dentist costs in Hungary for around £5,500 versus £12,000 in the UK. Even with the travel expenses the treatment in Hungary totals to maximum £6,500, allowing a huge saving whereby the quality is at least as good as in the UK.
The effect on British Pounds – The immediate aftermath of the surprising vote result was a drop of the GBP however it is already visible that on the long run the GBP may benefit even though at this point only speculations are possible. However there are a few tendencies worthy to track. After the ratification of the implementation period between March 2019 and 31 December 2020 the GBP reacted with a +0,51% rally compared to the Euro and +0.61% compared to the USD. While the ultimate effect at the end of the Brexit is unforeseeable the GBP has constantly improved, gained in 2017 9,5% against the USD and 4,3% against the Euro. (source: fxcm.com)
As Evergreen Dental and our partner hotels set our prices in Euro, the constant strengthening of the GBP results in a stronger buying power for UK patients and a growing gap in savings on the dental care including the related costs.
What about the aftercare and potential guarantee issues?
Naturally the question arises what a patient can do if experiencing problems with the dental work done abroad. The fear of exploding travel costs and the time involved give a legitimate struggle for travelling abroad. However some of the dental clinics are convinced of their quality and offer some reimbursement on flight tickets and free accommodation for patients facing a guarantee treatment however usually it is judged at and by the clinic whether the patient is really entitled to a free guarantee treatment.
Evergreen Dental as the only dental clinic in Budapest who entered a smart cooperation with the UK based insurance provider Medical Travel Shield offering a full insurance for £50-70 per treatment to UK patients. The insurance policy covers emergency treatments in the UK as well as a full coverage of all travel expenses for the next 12 months after the return to the UK. At the same time the clinic provide a free repair or remanufacture allowing no gap in the protection of their patients as more than 95% of all guarantee cases happen within the first 3-12 months after the finalization of the dental treatment.
No one can predict the long-term effect of Brexit on dental tourism with certainty but all signs are leading to a significantly growing demand and to growing benefit vs. risk for UK patients.
Evergreen dental will keep an eye on the development around Brexit and our patients can be sure to always be well-informed by us. Even after Brexit Evergreen Dental will provide the same quality and full service our patients are used to and most likely the demand for our services will keep on rising.
If you have any questions or you are ready to take the first step to your new smile, feel free to contact us, we’re here to help you! 😊