Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Efficient Delivery of Private Sector Health Care To The Uninsured, or How I Screwed Up My Choppers And Dr. Wasserman Saved The Day

Sherman Oaks, California

Something felt wrong in my mouth.

Tuesday evening, while eating a sandwich, I felt a pop and realized I had chipped a tooth. The next morning, I explained the situation to my dentist’s receptionist. She created a slot for me first thing Friday.

Dr. Wasserman did his thing and, after less than one hour in the chair this morning, my right mandibular central incisor had been reconstructed.

The total cost was $214 which, having opted against dental insurance, I paid in cash. The price struck me as low, considering that, along with his time and overhead, Dr. Wasserman’s expenses included an x-ray, local anesthetic and the composite material used to rebuild teeth. (He jokingly offered a choice of white or silver.)

I suffered a small but problematic injury and, within three days, received full and painless treatment which cost the equivalent of two DVD box sets.

No, I don’t want the government further nationalizing health care. Our private system is excellent in many ways.



Anonymous greenlight said...

AFAIK most nationalized health systems don't include dental - at least the one here in Sweden doesn't.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Paul Karl Lukacs said...

I have not done a survey of jurisdictions with socialized medicine, but here is a quick quote from Wikipedia about England's National Health Service:

"Following the government's introduction of a new contract in April 2006, NHS dentistry is not as widely available as it once was, with 900,000 fewer patients seeing an NHS dentist in 2008 and 300,000 losing their NHS dentist in a single month. This has forced many patients to pay much higher sums for private treatment, and has been criticised by the British Dental Association as having 'failed to improve access to care for patients and failed to allow dentists to provide the modern, preventive care they want to deliver'.

"Where available, NHS dentistry charges from 1 April 2007 are: £15.90 for an examination; £43.60 if a filling is needed; and £194 for more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures or bridges. About 50% of the income of dentists comes from work sub-contracted from the NHS."

So, under the NHS, fewer dentists are available and waits are longer. Worse, the out-of-pocket expense for a crown is _more_ than I paid this morning for a similar procedure.

Private sector health care is better (which might be why I've never met a Swede with bad teeth).

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Volcker said...

I've been in the worst dental pain of my life for two weeks and need two root canals, which run about $500 apiece. Thankfully my big Bloomberg benefit package covers most of that expense but if I were you I'd be taking a long hard look at suicide right now. Then again I probably would've brushed my teeth now and then if I didn't have it.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know how the malpractice insurance rates for dentists compare to what M.D.s (and hospitals) are forced to pay...

5:54 AM  

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