A Tale of Two Teeth – A Denture Adventure Abroad where Points mean Prices

Found myself in Geneva holding two false teeth in my hand. OK they were mine but they were supposed to be glued in attached with little butterfly wings to the real ones either side but the bread had been too hard and the pressure too full on. No pain, no damage but an unsightly hole at the front of the lower jaw and a rather fetching lisp. No coverage on my travel insurance but needed somewhere that would do the job today and not cost the earth. The Swiss primary care system- if system it is – features mini-polyclinics or walk-in centres offering all hours care – most offer for GP type care but there are also a few dental clinics. All are called ‘Permanences’ – see the phone book under P – if you do not fancy the A&E department at the big cantonal hospital.

Have Your Credit Card Handy

Pleasant modern offices in one of the less super-rich parts of town, walk in and fill in usual forms about current health conditions/treatments , reminded that this is a pay on the spot business but credit cards are fine and I was seen by a dentist within 10 minutes of arriving. Job done 30 minutes later in an all modcons treatment room and £149.88 on the credit card and away. What would this cost in London privately – ?£100 which is what it would have cost in Switzerland in those pre-meltdown crisis days when the £/CHF rate was £1/2.20chf and not the measly £1/1.55 it is now.  Nonetheless not as big a hit as I feared from a service business that was a UK consumer’s dream: seen at once; premium skilled service with no waiting time and a reasonable bill. I have paid more taking the dog to the vet.

The bill showed that I had been charged two sets of points – 9.5 for the diagnosis and 52 for the treatment. All points are costed @3.60 swiss francs. This is the method to control costs for the customers of the health insurance companies and is presumably the quid pro quo – the government says you must have insurance but promises it will do its best to keep the costs down. As I understand it, the 3.60chf  per point is a set rate aligned with episode tariff codings applied across all insurance policies no matter what company is offering them.

However these costs are rising for the second year running and the increase is 8% – eye-watering in a country with inflation in September 2010 at 0.3%. But never fear – there is a comparison website with an English language option – Switch with Comparis.ch – where the Swisser can  save up to 1000chf according to Comparis.

Meanwhile memo to self – molars only for the tough stuff. The teeth at the front are for display purposes only.

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