Going to the dentist, paying the bill and feeling the pain; thoughts on dental and health coverage…

Went to the dentist to get a crown yesterday. I had already maxed out my dental insurance for the year but I have considerable dental work coming up so waiting a month or so until my insurance kicks in for the year would not actually save me money in the long run — that is unless I don’t get all that dental work or I am no longer at my job through which I have the dental plan.

Also, the tooth was broken and the dentist said it was important to get it fixed as soon as possible. I already had to get an implant this year, so that convinced me I ought to act now.

But anyway, the bill was, in round numbers, about $1,400, which I paid on the spot. And that included a $65 discount for paying cash.

My dental plan only allows me a total or $1,000 a year, that is that is the total it will pay out. Just read an article by a dentist that says that is about standard for dental insurance. He said that dental insurance began back in the 60s and coverage has pretty much stayed at that level. It seems that dental insurance is not a big profit maker for insurance companies because it is usually maxed out in a year and they cannot get enough premium to cover the costs and make a big enough profit.

I know I recently read (within the past few years at least) that dentists were concerned that patients were neglecting their services due to the Great Recession. I have always wondered why dentists don’t push for better insurance coverage. Maybe some do, but I guess the answer is what I just wrote about that type of coverage not being a profit maker for insurance companies.

But all of what I just wrote is really a lead into what I really wanted to say and that is this:

Personally I can’t get past the notion that what we really need is single-payer nationalized health care. But I will quickly note that such just does not seem viable in this nation. When you talk national health care or socialized medicine or single payer or universal coverage or whatever you want to call it, you might as well be calling for the implementation of communism (and I would bet that most people younger than me, that is younger than 63, probably don’t even know what communism is except that it is bad).

Never mind that all of the other industrialized nations with democratic (small d) governments have some form of national health care, it just does not seem to fly her in the good old USA.

So, as an alternative I would offer this:

For the truly needy and the unemployed we offer essentially what we do now, health coverage (notwithstanding the lack of dental coverage) via government programs, such as Medicaid.

We of course maintain Medicare for the retired and disabled.

Everyone else is on his or her own with the option of buying coverage on the open market or taking advantage of coverage through work. But with that there is more:

For those of us on our own we would need more disposable income and that means reducing or keeping the tax burden down. We should scrap the income tax and possibly replace it with some form of a national sales tax.

What I am getting at is that people have different needs and preferences when it comes to spending money. If they had more money in their hand they would have more latitude to make decisions on how that money might be spent.

Some people will be careful and prudent and will save money back for contingencies, some will not. Hey, it’s a free country.

I think one of the reasons — albeit just one reason — health care costs are so high is that people don’t take finances enough into consideration on health care, they just hand over their insurance card.

Believe me, when I handed that almost $1,400 over for my dental work I felt the pain, so to speak. But I had made a conscious decision as to priorities. 

And I will end this post here, knowing that I only touched the surface on this topic


One more thing. I did not address Obamacare. I just read another article attempting to explain or summarize it and I still can’t get past, yes, but how does that affect me? I have to note here, though, that the young dental assistant told me after the dentist had left the room that she is studying to be a registered nurse but she was concerned that Obamacare would have a detrimental effect on the health care field, particularly private practice. But I also have a relative who works at a hospital tell me that the hospital is having trouble covering its costs from both private and public insurance. I don’t know what all this means, except the need to make a profit does not always mix with the need to maintain good health among the public.

P.s. P.s.

And if I had life to do over again, I would go at it with this in mind: the best insurance one can have is to make as much money as one can and hold onto it.


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