Stopped by the dentist today… The assistant must have taken a dozen or more x-rays of my teeth. They said this is part of the procedure required before anything can be done to my fractured tooth. That, plus 10 minutes of the actual dentist peering into my mouth, lectured on the importance of flossing (which I do), cost me $220. And no, I didn’t even get my tooth fixed.
But they gave me a quote for a list of things to work on in the following visits:
Tooth #8 (upper front-right tooth filling) — $360
Tooth #9 (upper front-left tooth filling) — $360 (also chipped when I was a kid; needs to be redone)
Tooth #20 (cavity) — $290
Tooth #29 (cavity) — $290
Tooth #2 (cavity) — $380
Total: My left arm and right leg (or $1,680)
In Thailand, I can get all that done, plus mouth cleaning and whitening for less than 1/3 of the price with the same quality and standards (Thai dentists that I know of are almost exclusively trained in the UK or US). But then again, I am in America. And I pay the price for it.
Panicked. I Googled some more and made sure those online insurances WILL cover some of the operations. For those of you who are unemployed and looking for an individual or family plan, Deltacare dental plans in the San Francisco Bay Area is probably the best bet. There are other ones like Aetna, GE (and some cheesy one called “Patriot” ) simply aren’t as popular among dental offices I called. But everyone seemed to know Delta.
With insurance, my initial visit with all those x-rays would have been free (on paper anyway; I’ll find out the next time I visit a different dentist). And those front tooth fillings would cost, at maximum, $150 each. Big difference. So that’s my $220 lesson for today.
The catch is, of course there’s always a catch, I can’t make any appointments before February 1st, 2006. For some reason, insurance companies like having rules like that. The rule says, if I signed up after 21st of any given month, the coverage doesn’t start until the 1st day of the second month (meaning, skipping one month). SO STUPID! Argh… I am sure there’s a “good reason” for this kind of rule. But it sure as well un-human centered. And I thought these kinds of rules, especially when it comes to healthcare, are supposed to make things easier for the patients.
So I paid $170 to sign up for both Grace and I (don’t think Bryan needs a dentist anytime soon just yet). Hopefully the savings will add up to at least that amount.
Tomorrow I take my car to get checked up. Let’s see what the damage is there. But for sure, it seems like $600 – $800 worth of repair is in order. ARGH! I can see in America (or any country really) how the poor can easily become poorer with no healthcare. They just can’t win with or without insurance (since the really poor simply can’t afford either).