Britons delaying dental care, using credit cards for payment


Dental care and credit cardsSince the advent of the economic downturn, Britons have been increasingly relying on credit cards to fund their everyday expenses as disposable income is stretched to the limit. A new study has now found that this reliance on plastic is extending to covering health-related costs.

Fighting tooth and nail to pay
Simplyhealth revealed that 39% of Britons have decided to pay for dental bills over £50 using credit cards in the past year. The healthcare provider expressed concern at this finding, particularly as the proportion of people struggling to find an NHS dentist for their children was 63%, up from the 2008 figure of 59%. James Glover from the company explained that the financial implications of the research represent a major public health danger.

"It's extremely worrying that people are going to these lengths to pay for their dental treatment and that others are delaying to the point of pain and long-term damage," he said.

Devastating effects
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the increased reliance on credit cards for dental bills is the considerable cost generally involved in this type of treatment. Indeed, Simplyhealth's Annual Dental Survey 2010 found that 43% of Britons delayed visiting their dentist in 2009 because of financial worries. According to the company, for 35% of these people, failure to seek the necessary attention has had "devastating effects." Over a quarter (26%) have suffered long-term tooth decay, while 19% have lost a tooth and 2% have needed extreme corrective dental procedures.

How can you avoid paying on credit cards?
The study also noted that 15% of people have decided against visiting the dentist and instead phoned NHS Direct or gone to hospital. Simplyhealth warned that this trend is adding further pressure on public services. However, there are solutions available which could help consumers avoid resorting to credit cards to pay for their dental treatments. Mr Glover highlighted the value of dental plans, which involve saving a small amount of money each week with visiting the dentist in mind.

"By putting aside just a little a week, health cash plans and dental plans can help take away the financial bother of dental care," he said.

Although many households are strapped for cash, Simplyhealth believes that saving as little as £2.25 per week could allow individuals to pay for dental visits, optician appointments and complementary therapies. By choosing this option, Britons may then be able to avoid the despair of racking up unnecessary credit card details in these tough economic times.


Published: 30 April 2010