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

November 27, 2012

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.

W. movie sums it up; McCain charges “socialism”

October 19, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

If you went into the theater with no knowledge of what has gone on for the past eight years, you might come out feeling sympathetic to George W. Bush after watching Oliver Stone’s movie “W.”, which opened Friday. I didn’t, but I could have, as I say, if I had not seen the real story played out before my eyes.

It is ironic, since Stone has little sympathy (a little, but not much) for Bush and set out to show what a disaster he has been and a little of the why and how. I watched the Charlie Rose show on PBS and saw an interview with Stone and the lead actor Josh Brolin. They both basically admitted to being Bush bashers, but Brolin also said he had a little sympathy for him, and I think Stone did too. Stone said Bush was a man who may have been able to look back and reassess his life at one point, seeing that he was an alcoholic and drug abuser and then supposedly becoming “born again” (and really, what is worse than a sinner? A reformed sinner). But Bush could not seem to do that same reassessment once he got mired in Mesopotamia. And it’s too bad he didn’t reassess what he was getting into before he did it.

I read at least one liberal blog before I saw the movie that lamented that it was too sympathetic to Bush. I think the sympathetic aspect gave it a human touch. But in reality, I don’t think there is anything to be sympathetic about (even though I caught myself being a little sympathetic during the movie, but that quickly faded). I warned someone I know before W.’s first election not to vote for him because he was “evil.” and I believe my warning turned out to be right. I’m not sure, but I think that person did not listen to or believe me.

Bush is evil because, in my opinion, he was, is, a spoiled rich kid who has always been cynical about the American people and this nation.

(This is not meant to be a normal movie revue. But if you want to know if the movie is worth seeing, I would say yes. Even though the writer of the movie — Stanley Weiser — had to depend upon the accounts of others and not Bush himself, I have little doubt that the story is eerily near accurate. I think it gives you a general sense of what he is all about and how he came to mess things up, particularly the Mid East wars. The movie does not deal with the financial crisis.)

Bush cleverly dodged the Vietnam draft by enlisting in the Air National Guard and then by all accounts did not fully complete his obligation. If he had just simply done what he was supposed to do, complete all the training and attend all the meetings, I would not fault him for that. It would have made him more honorable than Bill Clinton, who pretended to want to go into ROTC and then didn’t, keeping him ineligible for the Vietnam draft for awhile, and then skipped the country for awhile in the Rhodes Scholar program, once more keeping him out of reach, and then didn’t complete that program and then made a trip to the Soviet Union. But Bush does not have a clear record of completing his obligation. And then he has the audacity to pretend to land an airplane on the carrier deck and parade around in a flight suit and declare “Mission Accomplished,” and then go on to preside over a fiasco in which the death toll is 4,000 and counting and no end in sight, many long years later.

Actually, if things ever do settle down in the Middle East and we were to get some friendly-to-us governments there, history might record that it was all thanks to the determination of George W. Bush. Somehow I don’t think things are going to work out so cleanly. In fact, the mess there — Iraq and Afghanistan — may be the undoing of what looks to be an Obama presidency, strangely just as it undid the Bush presidency. Bush brought it all upon himself by his proud ignorance (he doesn’t  read much history or current news) and his stubbornness and cynicism. Obama is a thinker. We don’t know, though, if he is a “decider”.

If by chance John McCain ekes out a win, surly we will be headed for some type action against Iran (Russia?), because despite the fact that he accuses Obama of unwisely telegraphing moves, McCain has made it plain that Iran is his public enemy number one.

I personally wished this nation would refrain from military adventures, except in true direct self defense, but if we do, I wished we had decisive leaders. You either fight to win or you should not fight at all. And I believe the public feels this way too instinctively, but we have timid and inept leadership when it comes to war.

I actually think we as a nation may soon find that due to our own poor economic condition we can no longer afford to fight wars of choice. And what if we exhaust our strength and can’t even defend ourselves?

But on the subject on self defense, we need to look at the situation on our border with Mexico. It does not get much play in the press, but that nation’s internal order has by all accounts broken down under an all-out assault by the drug cartels. And now it looks as though members of a Mexican drug cartel have abducted a young apparently Caucasian boy, an American citizen as far as a I know, from his home in Nevada, possibly because his grandfather welched on a debt. This type of lawlessness from across the border we should not tolerate.




…McCain’s new line of attack is to call Obama a socialist, what with Obama’s call for “spreading the wealth”. McCain may have found an argument that resonates with many, but it’s kind of late for one thing, and we have been doing this for decades, for another. The progressive income tax, bracketing so that the more money you make the higher percentage of your income you pay (supposedly), is in essence income redistribution. I’m not sure but what I even feel that such is not fair or just. But I know that folks in the higher brackets either through their own adeptness or that of their tax preparers find a myriad of deductions to offset their tax burden, and don’t we constantly get those news stories at tax time where some major corporations pay no income taxes at all?

So it seems that income redistribution (which may work both ways – from the rich to the poor or from the poor to the rich in some cases) is something the right and left have accepted for the most part.

I notice that calls for a flat tax (Ronald Reagan made the pitch) or national sales tax or consumption tax, to replace the income tax never seem to get anywhere. As much as many hate the income tax, they may feel they or their tax people know how to work the system, so leave it alone.

It would seem that if those who worked in government, from our elected representatives to bureaucrats, knew that their source of sustenance directly depended upon a vibrant economy they would have no choice but to do everything they could to not hinder business activity.

Then again, I do not know the full ramifications of a national sales tax or such as opposed to the traditional income tax.


Clarification: In my reaction blog to the last presidential debate I inadvertently left out part of a sentence. What I meant to say is that McCain accused the Obama campaign of wrongly accusing his, McCain’s campaign, of using George Wallace type race baiting tactics.

P.s. The McCain campaign is directly accusing Obama of consorting with terrorist (s) of the past (American born anti-government radical(s), and by implication or innuendo aimed at the ignorant, Islamic terrorists of the present – and how absurd is that?) and by innuendo are mentioning Obama’s race by saying he is “not like us”. Of course the Obama campaign is using some negative and probably not totally accurate stuff against McCain, and so it goes in political campaigns.

Unfortunately in this nation we do not have an intelligence test or current events test for voting so at least in the past negative and inaccurate political ads seemed to have worked. This time around, perhaps, the majority may just want something different and the only way you can do that is elect someone who who is different.

I have still not marked my absentee ballot.