So, I went to the dentist this morning to get my last two teeth filled done of the six the dentist had made note of needing fillings… uhhh… like, a year and a half ago. Actually, at least four of them were identified by other dentists in 2000. When he first looked at my teeth, we couldn’t afford the fillings because we had basically no dental coverage and no income. So I got a cleaning and an estimate.
And last summer I got a job here and suddenly had income, and about a month before my insurance would be available, one of these 6 teeth began to hurt, in the back on the left, so I went in and got it filled, paying full price. And then after I had insurance, last fall, I got three more filled, the three on the right side. And then … money and time and reality haven’t put me in the dentist’s chair again until now.
And at the end/beginning of the year, my employer changed their dental provider. And I started paying a little more, and I hear that for the more expensive stuff, this plan may be better. But for my fillings…
Well, I guess there’s two kinds of fillings dentists do, and the only kind my dentist does (there’s no choice) is the more expensive “resin” fillings which approximate the color of teeth, rather than being a dark metal compound. And since a choice wasn’t offered to me and there’s nothing in my dental insurance paperwork mentioning it, I thought my fillings would be covered like… well, like the coverage schedule says, at 80%. And initial estimate they gave me of the cost of seeing the dentist today, with the $50 deductible since this is my first visit this year, was around $120. And I didn’t have any trouble/anxiety while sitting in the chair, getting my teeth worked on, and they weren’t behind schedule, so I wasn’t even worried I’d be late for work.
But then I went out to pay, and it was almost $160. And I’d put $120 into my checking account from my savings account (which is now being used to try to buy anything that has been indefinitely on hold and yet required, such as dental work, since I’m not going to use it to invest in Burst and I’m not going to try to become a publisher before … fall at the earliest) to cover it, and I knew it would go through, I have overdraft protection, but that was the first moment I began to be anxious about the whole thing. I mean, I knew it needed to be done, in fact, had already been done, so I’m going to pay for it one way or the other, but it’s always a little stressful when a bill comes out to be more than you expect. Like when my ‘free’ flat tire fix cost $26 the other day.
And I scheduled a checkup/cleaning for next week, since I haven’t had one in a year and a half, and they said it was covered 100%, so that’ll be free, and maybe … that’ll make up for it? Bah.
Anyway, so I went out to my car and looked at the receipt and statement I’d signed/received, and did some math and saw that the fillings were covered 70%. And I was pretty sure they were supposed to be covered 80%, so when I got to work I talked to someone in HR. She explained that she thought it was because our new provider doesn’t cover the resin fillings the same as the cheaper ones, that she’d heard something about that before, and that some dentists will ‘eat’ part or all of the difference, and that I could call the insurance company to ask them how much was covered.
So I did. I called the insurance company. They cover 80% of their listed cost of the cheaper ones, and I pay the difference between that and whatever the resin costs. She even quoted me her list prices and what would be covered. And you know what? My dentist is apparently ‘eating’ around $70 in the difference between what they billed me and what my insurance company says they’ll pay. (Or maybe they’ll bill me later, I’m hoping not, but not ruling it out.)
So… that sortof makes me feel like I don’t have the best dental coverage, but what they hey, I had the money for it in the bank, I got it done, and unless they tell me all sorts of new damage has occurred since the last time they looked, I should be in good shape. Oh, and apparently I have a reasonable dentist, which is a good thing, I think. He always has lots of patients, he’s “in-network” on all three of the forms of coverage I’ve gone through in the last year and a half, and he doesn’t mind me listening to my iPod while he works.
Ooh, and there goes the numbness… and here comes the “mild discomfort.”