My name is Sophie and I’m from Germany.
For my apprenticeship as an industrial clerk in Germany I’m staying in Glasgow for four weeks working for Defacto Dentists to improve my English skills. Here I’m learning more about dentistry in the UK and I’ve noticed some differences. In the following article I’ll compare the systems of the UK and Germany and I’ll highlight some interesting facts!
Let me create a scenario to explain the different systems.
Thomas Hager is 40 years old and lives with his wife in Hamburg, Germany. Every month he has got a fixed salary about 3000 € (£2654). For his compulsory health insurance fund he has to pay 261€ (£231) monthly which is 8.7% of his income. This insurance covers all consultations, for example, a visit to the dentist. Last week he complained about a toothache and the doctor diagnosed him a cavity in his molar tooth. Thomas received a filling and could leave the dental practice without local costs.
Comparing the System to Scotland and England this situation would proceed as follows:
Thomas is automatically included into the NHS system, which is financed by taxes. As a registered NHS patient, he can get all the care, advice and treatment he needs to keep his mouth, teeth and gums healthy. For his filling, he would have to pay about £20 in Scotland.
In England he has to choose the ‘Band 2’ for £56.30 that includes for example examination, diagnosis, advice, X-rays, fillings, root canal treatment and removing teeth (extractions).
He doesn’t have to pay anything if, within two month of completing a course of treatment, he needs more treatment from the same charge band or a lower one. If Thomas decides to go to a private dentist in the UK he can expect a price about £75-150.
At first glance the prices seem pretty difficult and a bit unfair. But each system has got its own upsides and downsides. Let’s throw light on Germany’s dental care. There you invest so much of your monthly income to protect your health. In any situation you can go to dentist, seek medical advice and you would always be protected by covering the costs of your insurance. You don’t need an appointment for an emergency as you just go to the practice and ask for the doctor.
Unfortunately there is a big disadvantage.
Whether or not you get sick, notice a cavity or stay healthy you have to pay your monthly amount. This is the main fact that bothers me. In the UK you only pay when you need to go to the dentist. If you stay healthy for 5 months you don’t have to spend money for the dentist. However it can be really expensive if you have a lot of dental problems. Suddenly you have to pay a great deal of money.
The result is that the system in the UK might be as expensive as in Germany when you always call on a dentist, however at this point I see the biggest difference. Imagine the situation that you have got a toothache while you’re eating some sweets and you maybe have to pay a lot of money when you go to a dentist. Would you go to the doctor? Probably not yet.
Would you go to the doctor if you know that you can go whenever you would like to and don’t have to pay money for it?
Probably yes. For me this is one of the biggest differences between the two systems. In Germany it’s not a big inconvenience to go to the dentist, so much like here, you go every six months. Dental care is an important theme in Germany because we attach great importance to white teeth. It makes you look healthier and improves your appearance. Regarding to this, I noticed another difference between the two countries. What do you imagine when thinking about a waiting room in a dental practice?
First of all, I think about sterile and clean separated chairs, which are arranged in a circle. This is the typical style of a German dental practice. Each patient has their own place to wait for the dentist. We attach importance to having privacy during our stay at the waiting room. Usually everyone stays calm and doesn’t talk to other patients and stay respectfully quiet if they have any pain. Here in Scotland I’ve learned that the patients pay attention to the atmosphere, the available newspapers and comfortable chairs with a back. I can imagine that you would like to have a television to pass the time? That would be a great idea to make it feel homely and cosy. It’s also a good way of removing any fear somebody may have and to show that the stay at the dentist isn’t as scary as everyone thinks. I really like the idea of more comfortable waiting rooms.
However I do appreciate that we have got the possibility to go to the dentist in such an easy way.
We don’t have to struggle for appointments, or pay the NHS fees, we pay our monthly amount and that’s it. We pay our compulsory amount and go when every time we need to. Dental health is important and whatever country you’re in, it’s important to make the most of the services you have. Your teeth are with you your whole life and stronger teeth make you look healthier, more attractive and they allow you to eat all the tasty food you want! In Summary I think it is privilege to use the NHS in the UK or the German insurance. You should use it.
Author: Sophie Hollaender