Healthcare Disparities

Two friends had toothaches today.

One has over-the-counter pain meds.

The other has had a dentist clean out some detritus near the periodontal ligament of the painful tooth; received prescriptions for Vicodin & Amoxicillian; and a written referral (with an x-ray) to a specialist for if this doesn’t improve in a few days.

I doubt it’s a coincidence that only one of them has health insurance.

Nor is insurance the only issue  — the friend with health insurance also has a new dentist (mine) because he was so dissatisfied with his previous dentist he was considering not using his health insurance.

8 thoughts on “Healthcare Disparities

  1. Most dental insurance pays very little (comparatively). It’s not unusual for dental coverage to pay for an annual exam and cleaning, and 50% of other procedures (if that). In other words, I question whether possession/non-possession of dental insurance is really the main factor for your friends.

    (Obviously you’d know more about this than I would since you know the actual people – not intending to pretend to know what’s going on – but if I heard about two random people with such different experiences, dental insurance wouldn’t be the first thing I would think. Ready cash for the up-front payments to the dentist might be, or different attitudes toward dentists, or maybe the first person has a dentist that sucks and no faith in same.)

    • Both have VERY sucky past experiences with dentists. And yes, upfront money is a factor (the insured one had a $50 copay) but insurance did cover the rest. The fact that both drugs are pretty standard and readily available in generic forms probably helped too.

  2. Many many doctors are really weird about uninsured people or practices that aren’t covered. The shots I get in my knees aren’t always covered and, though I’m fortunate enough to have wherewithal to pay cash, I still get told that I’m “not allowed” to have the procedure. Somehow in the minds of many medical office workers, “not insured for” has become synonymous with “not allowed to have”. I suppose I can’t blame them, they probably take a lot of flack for suggesting things that aren’t really an option for most people, but it’s wreaking havoc on standards of care.

  3. Just to clarify… I think it royally sucks that we aren’t ALL insured for such basic necessity as health care. It’s just an odd facet of the problem that it’s become the litmus for what constitutes “proper care”.

    • Yes. I think it that assuming “no insurance” means “no treatment” also shows how some healthcare providers are good communicators, and some aren’t, and some vary depending on factors like stress and schedule and such. To my mind, a good communicator would tell me if something isn’t covered and give me a price quote, not assume I’m unable to pay it.

      This is part of why I recommend my dentist — she understands that some people have bad dental experiences or what-have-you, and gives you OPTIONS. My friend had told his most recent dentist that the area near a particular crown tends to be a food trap and the dentist replied that “Oh, you just need to brush more”. That’s the area that my dentist dug out something that was lurking under the gumline…and she suggested he consider a water pick and/or replacing the crown. Not only did she not assume it was his fault, but she gave him multiple treatment options that he can go ahead with!

  4. Pingback: February Monthly Roundup « Living ~400lbs

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