Why Aussies are travelling to Bali to cope with the cost of living crisis

A Melbourne mum has discovered it’s cheaper to fly to Bali and get dental work done while on holiday than seek treatment in Australia during the cost-of-living crisis.

Routine dental procedures like a clean are two-thirds cheaper in Bali compared to Australia.

With airfares and resort-style accommodation thrown in, a Bali holiday is the same price as an annual dental visit and private health insurance in Australia.

Kirstin Edwards, 38, has travelled annually to Bali for a holiday since 2016 – with the exception of 2020 and 2021 when Covid border closures were enforced – and during these trips had her routine dental work done.

‘We’ve been to Bali seven times now and most of those trips we’ve had dental treatment,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

The businesswoman, who also raises a 12-year-old stepson with her builder husband Tom Gatiss, 37, says that by ditching private health insurance, she can fund a one- to three-week holiday in Bali that includes a trip to the dentist.

‘Rather than paying that private health every month, we put that money towards the family holiday, which makes great memories,’ she said.

‘In a high-stress environment, it’s incredibly important to have something to look forward to.’ 

A Melbourne mum has discovered it's cheaper to fly to Bali and get dental work done while on holiday than seek treatment in Australia during the cost-of-living crisis

A Melbourne mum has discovered it’s cheaper to fly to Bali and get dental work done while on holiday than seek treatment in Australia during the cost-of-living crisis 

Ms Edwards, who markets children’s travel diaries online, joked that even visiting a dentist could be enjoyable if it came with a Bali holiday.

‘Maybe you don’t look forward to that part [dental work] but the rest of the holiday is pretty fantastic – it doesn’t bother me going to the dentist,’ she said.

‘It’s like one or two days out of your whole holiday.’

In Bali, a scale, clean, check-up and Botox to treat TMJ disorder, or teeth clenching, typically costs $400 – or a third the $1,300 Ms Edwards was paying in Melbourne. 

Private health hospital and extras coverage for families typically costs $4,000 a year and is the kind of money that could be spent on return airfares and resort-style accommodation for just $60 to $150 a night – a fraction of what it costs in Australia.

‘If you want really luxurious accommodation, it’s still significantly cheaper,’ she said.

Ms Edwards, who goes to the Rejuvie clinic at Sanur, said dentists in Bali she had used had been trained in Singapore and the United States, adding she had experience no problems with her treatment. 

Kirstin Edwards, 38, has travelled annually to Bali for a holiday since 2016 - with the exception of 2020 and 2021 when Covid border closures were enforced - and during these trips had her routine dental work done

Kirstin Edwards, 38, has travelled annually to Bali for a holiday since 2016 – with the exception of 2020 and 2021 when Covid border closures were enforced – and during these trips had her routine dental work done 

The businesswoman says that by ditching private health insurance, she can fund a one- to three-week holiday in Bali that includes a trip to the dentist

The businesswoman says that by ditching private health insurance, she can fund a one- to three-week holiday in Bali that includes a trip to the dentist 

‘Way back when, when I first went, I was definitely a little apprehensive but when I found out that our dentist at the time had their training in Singapore and America, I felt very comfortable,’ she said. 

When asked if she would also trust a Bali dentist with more complex procedures like X-rays, wisdom teeth removal, root canal surgery or crowns, she said: ‘Yes, a thousand per cent I would.’ 

Her only advice is to visit the Bali dentist early on in the trip in case a follow-up visit is required.

‘I always encourage people, when I speak to them, to go on the first one or two days of their holiday – that way if you need extensive work done, you’ve got time to have it facilitated,’ she said.

The Australian Dental Association discourages ‘dental tourism’ because patients who receive treatment overseas are not able to seek redress or take their dentist to a health ombudsman if they are unsatisfied.

Ms Edwards, who markets children's travel diaries online, joked that even visiting a dentist could be enjoyable if it came with a Bali holiday

Ms Edwards, who markets children’s travel diaries online, joked that even visiting a dentist could be enjoyable if it came with a Bali holiday

Furthermore, complications from dental treatment while overseas are not always covered by travel insurance.

The ADA also warns: ‘Language and culture differences may mean the practitioner who treats you may not fully understand what you want or accurately determine what you need to solve your dental problems.’

Families on a combined income of $186,000 have to pay a Medicare levy surcharge of up to 1.5 per cent if they don’t have private health insurance. 

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