July 26, 2009

THEY JUST PAID FOR IT

I had this conversation this weekend:

Friend:  Well, I think people need health coverage.  And I include dental in that because I think dentist visits are so important.

Sarah:  Oh, my family never had dental insurance growing up.

Friend:  That's terrible!  My kids go to the dentist twice a year, no questions.

Sarah:  Oh no, we went to the dentist twice a year too, just that my parents had to pay for it out of pocket each time, for all five of us.

Friend:  [horrified look, as if I had said my dad did all our own dentistry at home in the garage]

The conversation turned to other matters, but as I think back on it now, I wish I could go back and restart the conversation from this point.  I find it fascinating that this friend equated not having dental insurance with not visiting the dentist at all.  My parents took us regularly, and they paid for everything on their own: cleanings, x-rays, fillings, sealant, my broken front tooth that rebroke six times during my teen years, retainers, four sets of braces, Mom's crowns and root canals, etc.  I know it wasn't cheap, and I have since thanked my parents for all the dental work they bought for me, especially since now I have to buy my own retainers each time the dog chews one up.

But we received dental care.  The lack of insurance didn't keep my parents from taking care of our health.

Why is it that people act like they have no concept of taking care of routine health concerns on their own?  As if to say that if it's not covered by insurance, you're out of luck?  We weren't out of luck; we just paid for it.

I mean they paid for it.  Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Posted by: Sarah at 09:53 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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1

Same here...we grew up without medial insurance too. When I tell this to other people they act like it's child neglect. However, we all got all our vaccinations, very rarely went to the doctor for anything but the normal check-ups (i.e. if we had a cold, our parents just nursed us as home, no need to go to the doctor for that). I did have a bad ear infection problem, and the doctor said, either he could put tubes in my ears, or I would grow out of it naturally...so my parents just learned how to treat infections at home, as my tubes got wider on their own as I got older, and I no longer had a problem with water getting caught in there.

Oh, and we children never got any cavities...never. And the only broken bone was a pinkie finger, that my brother broke body surfing when he was 14. Some people would say: "well, you guys were lucky." I disagree, my parents focused a lot on prevention and just eating healthy foods (we never had soda growing up, and never had sugary cereals, etc.) and we were encouraged to be very active. And I think that had a lot to do with our health. Oh, and yeah, we also all 4 of us had braces.

Until marrying my husband, I also had no medical insurance. But you would be surprised at how "cheap" dental/medical care can be, if you are paying out of pocket. I thought I was getting a cavity. So I went to the dentist, he x-rayed me, found nothing but one tooth was a little spongy, so he filled that with a plastic sealant, and did the same for the rest of my molars...price tag? $76. I think that the best combination is not having medical coverage for normal check-ups etc., but having catastrophic insurance with a $5000 deductible, which covers those unexpected incidents like a car accident, or a prolonged illness.

I also went to the doctor for something, and when I was leaving got a bill for $150, which they expected my insurance to cover. So I pulled out my credit card to pay, and the office staff said: "oh, you don't have insurance, and are paying immediately?" And they were a little perplexed, because they didn't know how to deal with this, and then figured it out, and my bill was reduced to just over $90. They explained that because they have to wait 3+ months sometimes for the insurance companies to pay, they charge more for insured patients. (The same goes for if you want to get your car repaired under your insurance out of pocket...my husband had to replace his windshield...if he had gone through his insurance, they would have charged over $500...out of pocket about $380.)

So it seems it is self-reliance versus thinking that if the government doesn't take care of it, there is no way you could do it on your own. Weird.

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at July 26, 2009 02:44 PM (irIko)

2 CVG -- I was thinking of your stories when I posted this.  I don't think my parents ever got any sort of uninsured cheaper price at the dentist, but that sure would've been cool.  I agree with you that health could be like car insurance; we currently have a $1000 deductible on our cars, which is higher than they recommend, but we have NEVER filed an insurance claim, so for us, it was annoying to keep paying every month for the lower deductible.  We too replaced our own windshield last year.  It seems like people could pay for regular dentist and doctor check-ups on their own.  I am very trusting of the free market, but I bet that a regular dental cleaning would cost less if no insurance covered it.  I bet certain dentists would set up shop to only do cleanings and we could get the price down to $30 for a quick visit...hell, like the cost of changing your oil.  It's regular maintenance; I don't understand why insurance or "society" is supposed to pick up the tab.

Posted by: Sarah at July 26, 2009 03:03 PM (TWet1)

3 I read an article a while back about a doctor (GP) who didn't accept medical insurance and only charged $50 a visit. Basta! His philosophy was that it was quicker, easier, and it improved the patient/doctor relationship, because there was no else involved in the discussion.

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at July 26, 2009 03:22 PM (irIko)

4

With all due rspect I think the point is that there are so many people who can't afford even routine care. For instance, my friends daughter who was treated for neuroblastoma (a form of brain cancer) that was found by a very persistent well care nurse at the doc's office. She recieved a life saving stem cell transplant. Recently she had a recurrence. A recurrence they would not have not known about had it not been for a routine follow up at Children's Hospital here in Philadelphia. A visit paid for by the state sponsored insurance program in the state of New Jersey (finally one good thing comes out of that state) She is receiving Proton therapy instead of radiation because at her age the radiation would give her an automatic IQ drop of 30 points.

So pay for it now, or pay for it later - in the form of special needs education if she survives this bout and most likely state assistance to the mom (her husband who was my friend passed away 3 years ago from Esophogeal cancer, so they are a single parent household) who will have to stay home with a severely learning disabled child. The state and the tax payer will pay either way. I'd rather my tax money go to treat the disease and not the fallout of rhe treatment for the rest of the kids life.

As for dental, we have really bad teeth in my family. I had at least 6 root canals by the time I hit puberty. If it were not for my dad's dental insurance through GE I probably would not have any teeth at all. My mom was a single working woman in the 70's and 80's and just would not have been able to afford the work that was needed. So I am grateful that we had it.

I think leaving it to the parents to assume the burden of all costs for wellcare is to assume that many of them have some sort of intelligence. It would be a distaster of epic proportions in this city if there were no care available for kids with a state program. There would seriously be a lot of dead kids.

I'm not for universal healthcare by any stretch. I am however very much for well care for kids whose parents cannot afford it. And persoanlly I don't mind having my taxes pay for it. I think healthcare should be like every other important issue, it should become about states right. No healthcare for kids in Nebraska? Move to California or New Jersey where there is.

I do respect both of your opinions, I just happen to disagree on this point with you.

Posted by: Mare at July 26, 2009 04:33 PM (HUa8I)

5 I always thought this PATMOS practice was a great idea, and rather in line with what CVG suggests, an idea I think is awesome.

http://www.patmosemergiclinic.com/

with more here:

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/aug/20/maverick-doctor-revolution/

Posted by: airforcewife at July 26, 2009 05:57 PM (CDkfD)

6

Mare, I believe there are always exceptions. Just like with the abortion argument. I am pro-choice, but I find it very sad that abortion is always argued for because of victims of rape and incest and in the case of the life of the mother or fetus, when those cases only represent 8-15% (depending on polls) of actual abortions...the rest are just birth control.

Universal healthcare coverage is always argued for with cases exactly like you mentioned...but why not ONLY cover those cases, and not make it universal?

It's like welfare. It's always argued for as a safety net for those facing great misfortune. I have to admit that I am partial to having a limited safety net in this country...unfortunately this has become a safety hammock.

So I agree with you, Mare. Those are cases that deserve help...but why should help be extended to everyone, letting them off the hook for taking care of something that should be routine and expected, like maintaining your house?

Posted by: CaliValleyGirl at July 26, 2009 08:19 PM (irIko)

7 Here's another sob story: My mom has Lupus and has spent roughly $200 per month on prescriptions alone for the past 23 years.  Not even to mention doctor visits.  My family is no stranger to long-term health care problems.  Still, my mother opposes changes to the system, even ones that might potentially benefit her.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have two brothers in their 20s who are in good health and who don't make much money.  They shouldn't be forced to buy expensive plans that they won't use.

Like CVG, I don't like to make decisions for the whole of society based on outliers.

Posted by: Sarah at July 26, 2009 08:35 PM (TWet1)

8

I was speaking specifically about kids, not adults who can make their own living and can pay for visits and or policies. If the state system could get it together to treat these extraordinary cases in a timely fashion so that the kids could actually have a good shot at recovery then I'd agree with you CVG. In Grace's case she had a short window (21 days) to get to one of the 5 Proton centers in the country or go with standard radiation. She had to get a condressman and a senator to help push through the paperwork.

I don't know what the answer is but I don't think I'd want to be the person who has sit across from a parent with a sick kid and say "Sorry life screwed you but your kid is going to die because you don't make enough money to pay for the treatment"

There has to be a better answer to the healthcare issue than what's been proposed. We have the best healthcare available in the world, but the insurance companies make folks jump through flaming hoops to be able to use it. And I do think everyone should have some sort of coverage.

Even a healthy 20 year old could wake up tomorrow and get hit by a bus needing continuing nursing care for the rest of their life. If they have a policy it could be the difference between spending that time in a state hospital with a low quality of care funded by the taxpayer anyway or a private facility where it might be better.

I'm sorry your mom has Lupus Sarah, that really sucks. Is she covered by insurance or do they consider it a pre-existing condition. Insurance not covering pre-existing stuff is another thing that makes me angry about the system.

I really think we need healthcare insurance reform instead of national healtcare.

Posted by: Mare at July 27, 2009 06:53 AM (HUa8I)

9 When I lived in Arkansas, I worked for a company that, when health coverage was offered, they decided to go with a "self-insurance" plan. Every year, premiums went up. One or two women covered by the plan have a baby? We all ended up paying for it the next plan year with higher premiums. Right now, I'm uninsured (underemployment...), but I don't want what Obama and the Dems are trying to sell us. This is a small scale where the plan had to break even. Just imagine this times thousands of participants. We - the American taxpayer - can't afford it. They eventually added dental & vision, but I'd been paying for that out-of-pocket before. Cleaning twice a year (the premium ended up being what I spent on the cleanings out of pocket). I wear contacts, so it was nice to get that added. Growing up, I went to Army doctors and dentists, pre-Tricare. Lucky for us, most often, we were somewhere where waiting to get in to see someone wasn't a big hassle (overseas in smaller military communities, mostly). Also lucky for us, we weren't prone to being chronically sick or injured accidentally much.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 02, 2009 12:17 AM (paOhf)

10 This part of Atlas Shrugged about dentistry has been in my head for a week now:

"Then there was one old guy, a widower with no family, who had one hobby: phonograph records. I guess that was all he ever got out of life. In the old days, he used to skip meals just to buy himself some new recording of classical music. Well, they didn't give him any 'allowance' for records -- 'personal luxury,' they called it. But at that same meeting, Millie Bush, somebody's daughter, a mean ugly little eight year-old, was voted a pair of gold braces for her buck teeth -- this was 'medical need,' because the staff psychologist had said that the poor girl would get an inferiority complex if her teeth weren't straightened out. The old guy who loved music, turned to drink, instead. He got so you never saw him fully conscious any more. But it seems like there was one thing he couldn't quite forget. One night, he came staggering down the street, saw Millie Bush, swung his fist and knocked all her teeth out. Every one of them."

The Twentieth Century Motor Company shows how socialist principles - purportedly more civilized than capitalist ones - lead to savagery.

Welcome to the Twenty-First Century Motor Company. All Omericans are its employees. It doesn't pay you; you pay it.

Posted by: Amritas at August 02, 2009 03:54 AM (h9KHg)

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