Some Americans Head South for Dental Care



An Alaska man made a longer trip than most to simply see the dentist. Mark Bolzern recently left Anchorage, stopped in Las Vegas and then made his to way to Los Algodones, Mexico all just to see the dentist.

But Bolzern is not alone, even though 60 percent of Americans have dental insurance coverage. About 70 percent of senior citizens don’t have dental coverage, according to a study by Oral Health America. Medicare does not cover dental care and many employers don’t offer port-retirement health benefits. The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act allow enrollees to get dental coverage only if general health coverage is purchased first. For senior citizens, much of the dental work they need is costly.

That’s why many people, specifically senior citizens, now flock to places like Los Algodones. There, many of the dentists even speak English, and sometimes even accept American insurance. The costs are significantly lower.

In the specific case of the man who made the trek to Los Algodones from Anchorage, he saved around $62,000 by having his dental procedure done in Mexico. He needed his teeth raised and a crown on every molar.

The overall cost of dental procedures has risen at about 5% annually during the last 2 decades. Many dental plans are associated with high deductibles and don’t provide comprehensive coverage.

Despite the lower costs, the American Dental Association has stated that Americans should do plenty of research before making a trip outside of the United States for a dental procedure. That’s because different countries use different equipment and some things, such as implants, may not have warranties. A malpractice lawsuit later may not be a possibility.