An ounce…

I started the day with a bang this morning–a dentist visit. In my case, that often involves fillings, crowns, etc. Yes, I look very much likethis. Only a lot shorter.

So you would think, wouldn’t you, after my dental insurance people covering filling after filling, crown after crown, root canal after root canal, that maybe–just maybe–they’d be interested in preventing more such procedures?

Ah, silly me. You know better, don’t you? This is health care in America, where the abbreviation POS means exactly what you think it does and where an ounce of prevention equals $560 in out of pocket expenses for me. Because my dental insurance won’t cover a bite guard to keep me from grinding my teeth to dust. (Of course, I probably wouldn’t need this lovely device if it weren’t for the insurance industry…)

Anyway, it was particularly irritating to me to have to listen to April Fulton on NPR this morning (with orange impression-goo in my mouth, trying to breath through my nose, which I couldn’t really do because my insurance won’t cover the one prescription antihistamine that actually works for me.) April was talking about the definition of“public plan” (audio linky) using the analogy of a public airline service. I appreciate April trying to find a way to explain the debate in terms people can understand. The thing is, that analogy is fundamentally flawed, because (among many other things) it doesn’t take into account the fact that there is no such thing in the airline world as preventative care. The airlines don’t say, “Hey, we think you might have a dire need to be in Seattle in May, so we’re going to fly you to Boise now!” Besides which, April, most of us get the problem just fine without cute analogies. (And it would have been nice if there’d been something new in that report. Just sayin’.)

What I’m most interested in seeing in any kind of a public plan is a strong emphasis on preventative care. Maybe that might prompt our health care insurance industry to start providing that service, too.

And I’m sure right after that, they’ll provide bunnies for everyone! (What’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?)

15 thoughts on “An ounce…

  1. Similarly, a lot of dental plans don’t cover fluoride treatments either. Yuck.
    You may be able to fight it with the insurance company if your dentist can recommend a stack of journal articles showing that the bite guard will lead to lower costs. It will be a battle, but I’ve seen similar.
    Or, you can really get cutesy and if you’re having headaches, have the doctor prescribe a bite guard for TMJ disorder (but you’ll need to find a doc who is up on the literature for this. Perhaps your dentist knows one?). A lot of times, it is all in how the visit is coded.
    But above all, I couldn’t agree more about preventative care. I am fortunate in working in one of the few places that has a health and wellness program. You participate in the program and you get lower insurance rates. Now if it could just couter the evil of the restaurant industry trying to convince me that I need to eat the way they want to serve the food.

  2. Just a general word of caution re insurance-based “wellness” programs. Some, not all, can function as a trojan horse- meaning they can use the collected data in health profiles to raise company/group/or individual rates.
    Always read the fine print and ask questions prior to enrolling in one of these.

  3. You do understand that, in a system where the insurance company is not stuck with you “for life”, that paying for care now that prevents a problem ten years from now, might not be in the best interest of their shareholders, to whom they have a fiduciary responsibility?
    This kind of nonsense makes me want to punch people when I hear them talking about the “moral hazard” of universal health care, as if the current system were not filled with moral hazards, with profit-seeking corporations far more amoral than your average flesh-and-blood person.

  4. THIS. I wanted to punch my radio this morning as April rambled through her vapid crap about taking a plane to “healthytown.” If you want a real analogy, how about there being a private ticket window that can tell you to fuggof or direct you to a different plane if they think it’ll make them more money, and a government ticket window that just puts everyone on a plane.

  5. I actually think giving everyone a bunny would be a GREAT preventative measure. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars in therapy bills my pets have saved me, and supposedly petting a small furry thing lowers your blood pressure or something.
    Plus there’d be homes for all the homeless bunnies whose dumbass owners bought them for Easter and then got tired of.

  6. I know she was trying but her analogy of the private plane having all the deluxe features while the public plane just got you there was ridiculous. So the public option would like not have anesthesia or what? Exactly how much healthcare is unnecessary frills?
    I hear a lot that we don’t need “gold plated” coverage and I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

  7. Agreed, A.
    And MapleStreet, I’m working with my dentist and his staff to see about the TMJ option, because I actually do have some issues that way. We’ll see.
    dr2chase, it irks me to no end that the insurance folk didn’t just cover it automatically–it’d save me in dental work in the next fucking year, let alone ten years down the line. But you’re right–there’s a big problem with combining a for-profit model with a service (health care) that in many ways works against the for-profit thing. It’d be nice if the folks in Congress would consider that issue when they’re working on this whole health care behemoth.

  8. buggyq, if it is allergies that ails you, eating LOCAL honey is the cheap remedy. i had a whole bottle of local wildflower honey a few winters ago and i had NO HAYFEVER AT ALL the next sping. so i have been doing honey every winter. works good on cat bites too.
    i feel your dental pain, tho my issue is more an improper bite. strait teeth from birth, but pesky bite. no isurance, but i get 5% off at my dentist if i pay on day of service.

  9. pansypoo, do bees feast on tree…stuff? My big issue is tree pollens. I may give it a shot anyway–every little bit helps.
    (Complete digression here: I love bees. We had a swarm hang out in our apple tree for a day last year. They were amazing! A big glob of ’em shaped like a strawberry, only the size of a basketball, if that makes any sense. I felt bad, tho–by the time I thought to get hold of a beekeeper who might want them, they’d moved on.)
    OkieBlue, I worry that I may fall under the “gold-plated” definition. Generally speaking, my health insurance has actually been quite good (despite my current issues). But the problem isn’t the .0000000001% of Americans who have spectacular coverage. It’s the billions wasted on all the crap that goes along with insurance companies trying to squeeze the extra nickel out of us.

  10. Re: NPR. Waste of money and has been for 25 years. NPR is the elevator music of the radio.
    Sorry about your tooth problem. I live in Peru. When I got here I could not afford to have ANY of the teeth that I had ground down during the Gulf War and current insanity.
    Had my translator take me to her dentist. Xray, consultations, xray, more consultation, call in the crown maker and consult her. Finally, what is going to cost. My translator, very expensive. How much? Very very expensive. How much dammit? $800 For each tooth? No for everything. I pulled a grand in American and gave her $800 and told her to get it in writing. Final 11 to 13 crowns, miscellaneous fillings, 4 or 5 root canals, two split front teeth glued back together with a German technique (checked those in Arizona, dentists said $15,000 for two transplants). Problem with one of the root canals, the root had twisted itself into a spiral. They called in the company specialist from Lima, 19 hours on an express bus, 3 or 4 hours on my root canal, 19 hours on the bus back to Lima, extra cost? No, we guarantee our work.
    For $240 more than your one tooth.
    You know someone who needs dental work and can scratch up 2400 dollars, I can arrange to have your whole damn mouth rebuilt, air fare, hotel, food, and a translator. I WILL not handle this beyond starting the program because I hate the American government and refuse to talk to Americans. If someone needs serious dental work,, because I hate American dentists worse than the government.
    Ate some taffy at Xmas four years later. Crown popped off. Dentist replaced, “guaranteed” means guaranteed, no charge.
    Best dentists that I have ever had and for the first time in my life someone lined up the teeth on both sides of my mouth so I can chew on both sides of my mouth.

  11. Just a suggestion, but why pay for a bite plate (especially out of your own pocket) when you can buy an athletic bite guard for a couple of bucks? It works for me.

  12. Evil is Evil,
    Of course, you bring up the whole topic of Medical Tourism. There are insurance companies here that send folks to overseas hospitals to have their operations. The cost of travel and healthcare is less than the cost of healthcare here.
    It will be interesting to see what happens.

  13. there is baswood honey-tends to crystalize, but wildflower would hit tree stuff too. hope it does help. it ever so nice not having to BUY stuff. no itchy eyes. no drippy nose.
    i am working on prevention for my teeth.

  14. Evil is evil, good Christ, I may be calling on you. My dentist keeps hectoring me to get implants in the places where I have no grown-up teeth to replace the baby teeth that fell out years ago. I finally told her, “the day you make it free, I will do it, now stop making me feel bad for being poor.”
    Which shut her up for exactly one visit and then she was back to the pestering.

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