Crew dental care: how to control costs?

    Does your PEME include Dental?

    This question may sound both weird and obvious. 

    The Hand book for seafarer medical examiners advises: Seafarers should be advised, prior to their appointment, that a fitness certificate will not be issued if there is evidence of poor dental health. If they have not had a dental check up in the last year, have any dental symptoms or missing fillings they should be advised to make a dental appointment prior to the medical in order to save time, should their dental fitness be in doubt.

    Despite the above instructions, not all PEME forms require a proper Dental visit, relying instead on a general look in the mouth and several basic questions with yes/ no answers. No additional documents, papers or costs of immediately-needed treatment is required. Dental Health is the field of human health that is left outside the essential health checkups. In many countries, culturally, dental health is only looked at ‘in the moment’ – by this point, little can be done for the health or preservation of teeth. Sadly, it ends with infection, extraction, pain, suffering and high costs for the cruise lines. It is important to note that more than 30% of medical outpatient expenditures are for various dental treatments. 

    AP Companies services a major number of Cruise Lines providing Ports of Call Medical appointments, Hospitalizations and Home Country Medical treatment. When analyzing the statistics, we are able to identify differences in medical costs between various cruise lines. These differences may stem from the following: 

    1. The PEME requirements of each cruise line and the way the PEME is performed 

    We recommend involving a specialized Third party who could provide the following - arrange and review the results of the PEME, ensure Fit for Duty declaration is absolutely true and transparent, avoid fraudulent certificates, ensure the crew member will be able to fulfill the duties and protect the cruise line from unnecessary medical costs. AP Companies is proud to support our clients across Asia, Europe, and the US to arrange high-quality, cost-efficient PEMEs for the crew. 

    2. Country of origin of the crew members 

    Regarding Dental Health, we need to bear in mind that in many countries there is no culture of preventive dental checkups or dental hygiene.  Once the crew members who have been recruited from these countries arrive onboard, they often obtain their first dental care. Unfortunately, after a lifetime of neglect, they require several immediate fillings, large volume of periodontal treatment, and many other high-cost procedures. 

    Dental health does not only mean saving dental costs, but also having a more efficient and more capable crew. It is very difficult to work well and remain productive when you have serious dental pain, difficulty eating, feel tired and exhausted, etc.  Additionally, dental health impacts the crewmember’s general health. Oral infections have been linked with diabetes, heart disease, respiratory infections and breast cancer. All of these conditions represent high medical costs for the cruise line and often, life-long treatment for the crewmember. 

    AP Companies is a trusted medical partner of the largest Cruise line companies in the industry. The reasons behind such partnerships are not only the fact that the cruise lines prefer to delegate such important part of their crew wellbeing to a specialized company, but also provides the means for the cruise line to maintain control of medical expenses globally and have access to statistics regarding trends of medical expenditures. Statistically, they can understand the main reasons for medical appointments, the specialties most frequently required, the crewmember positions onboard most often requiring additional medical referral, as well as crewmember country of origin. All data is of course completely anonymous, ensuring compliance with all privacy requirements. This statistical picture is often used by the cruise lines for PEME enhancements and introducing new procedures in order to prevent both immediate health risks and future medical expenses.