Why we can’t have nice things (aka why Alison can’t get the dental work she needs done)

dentist-toothbrush-dental-care-hygiene-dentistry-1

Photo via Visual hunt

So, I had a visit to the dentist this morning. I had a tooth that was breaking apart that I needed to get pulled ASAP. I’ve been putting it off while I paid down the balance on my last dental bill, but it was to the point I couldn’t wait any longer.

I went in and my dentist – who is AWESOME – looked over my teeth and said he’d pull the broken one and the one next to it since my ultimate goal is to have all my teeth pulled and dentures fitted. I agreed, as long as we could do it as an emergency extraction which is $99 for cash only patients – aka those of us who don’t have dental insurance.

The dental assistant/hygienist talked to the front desk person and came back to tell me that the $99 emergency extraction was only for new patients, and as an existing patient I’d have to pay the full price of $101 for each tooth. That’s $202 to get two molars pulled.

I couldn’t afford it. I have to keep my balance under $300 to maintain the kind of payment plan I have with them so I told her that they just needed to pull the broken tooth. She said she’d go let the dentist know. I wasn’t happy. I really wanted both molars out simply because it meant one less trip to the dentist, which I don’t like anyway.

The dentist came back and told me they were still pulling both teeth, but he’d only charge me for one. He said it would take him an extra 10 seconds to pull the second tooth and he didn’t see any reason to make me go through another visit just to pull one tooth on the upper left side. He told the dental assistant/hygienist to mark it as the first one as a regular extraction and the second one as a provider write off. He said he didn’t care what corporate said. It was his time he was being paid for, and he wasn’t going to waste it making me suffer.

So I got two teeth pulled for the price of one. My mouth is extremely sore right now, and I’m waiting until the numbness fades a bit more before I try to eat something so I can take some Tylenol. But talking to the hygienist/dental assistant, she showed me my treatment plan. I still have a long way to go, and it’s still going to cost me almost $4000 in the end to do what I need to.

Let me point something out real quick – that’s $4000 AFTER I pay off this current extraction and the rest of my earlier balance. That includes all extractions and the dentures. I also want to point out that I’ve already had four teeth pulled. The first was $99 because I was in pain. The other three were the $101. I’ve also had x-rays twice, which are around $180 each time. So I’ve already paid a little over $400 to my dentist. I still have the rest of the balance from the last visit as well as the new balance from this to pay off. That’s going to bring that total up to a little over $600.

Now, I’m on Medicare with Medicaid paying the deductibles for me. Which means I don’t have dental coverage. I did some checking on dental insurance. For the kind I’d need to get the work done I have to have, it would cost me approximately $100-$180 per month as a premium. I can’t afford that. And that was on the low end that barely covered my needs. The really good plans can run you upwards of $300+, if you’re lucky.

I don’t understand why medical, dental, and vision insurances are so fucking expensive. Well, yes I do. It’s because the US utilizes a for-profit insurance system instead of universal healthcare. With the insurance companies out to make as much money as they can while paying out as little as possible, low income to the middle class have to pay so much that it’s almost impossible to get good, comprehensive coverage.

The US Senate wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering us a replacement. They want to take insurance away from almost 11.4 million people. They want to end the Medicaid expansion, which would mean I’d lose my coverage there because I make too much according to the normal federal guidelines. So that would mean I’d be forced to pay all of my deductibles for Part B and Part D Medicare on my own. That would remove an additional $300 from my already extremely limited funds. I would then have to find a supplemental insurance coverage plan since Medicare really doesn’t cover all that much anymore. Which would cost me even more, cutting even deeper into my fixed income.

This is bullshit. Comprehensive coverage – medical, dental, and vision – should be provided for everyone. These are necessities for a good quality of life, not to mention life saving at times. Yes, I realize my taxes would probably go up a bit if we did implement a universal healthcare system here in the US (once my husband’s business starts generating income we will be paying taxes.)

You know what? I’m okay with that. I’m okay with keeping everyone in this country healthy. I’m okay with spending more to help those who are unable to pay exorbitant medical bills due to financial hardships.

People say that with universal healthcare there will be long waits for providers. Like there isn’t right now? In order to get into see my regular doctor, I have to put in a request at least 2-3 weeks in advance of when I want to see her. If I don’t and call for an appointment out of the blue, it could take a month or more before I can see her. If it’s serious enough, they tell me to go to Urgent Care or the ER. Neither of those are cheap, and can often lead to a lot more problems for me.

And specialists? Ha. I had to wait four months to get my first appointment with a neurologist even though my seizures had kicked back after being controlled by medication for 4 years. The hematologist and vascular surgeon I was told to see? The vascular surgeon took three months and the hematologist took a month. The sleep doctor I’m supposed to be seeing for the fact that there’s a chance I have sleep apnea? Four months. So don’t tell me there’s “no wait” with what we have now. Our whole system is fucked and no one seems to care.

I don’t like doing political rants on my blog very often, but right now, call or email or fax your Senator and tell them to tell Mitch McConnell to go fuck a light socket. We deserve insurance. We deserve healthcare coverage. And those like him who are too wealthy, too pampered, too sheltered to give a fuck about the rest of us? They need to go. ASAP.

Advertisements