Thursday, March 09, 2006

Offending the Orthodontist

Today, Hannah had a dentist appointment to have her teeth cleaned. As usual, she had no cavities but we were handed a business card with a picture of a smiling, cartoon family on it. The card proclaimed boldly across the top .... "Spectacular Smiles & Confident Tomorrows!" We've always known (based upon observations of her birthmom's teeth) that sooner or later, we'd be asked to call an Orthodontist to begin the process of braces. It's no big deal to us. It's one of those things that as a parent, I just assumed we'd deal with if and when the need arose. Similar to needing glasses or taking medications for being sick.

I dialed the number and spoke to Perky Holly...

ring ring ring...

Holly: Hello! Thank you for calling Blah Blah Orthodontics. This is Perky Holly speaking. How can I make you smile today?!"

Me: Well.... er.... Holly....(first of all....calm the fuck down), my name is Sheri and my daughter's dentist gave us Dr. Blah Blah's card to schedule Hannah for a consultation.

Holly: Great! Wow! This is such an exciting time in Hannah's life! All her teeth are growing in crooked and we can help! Why don't you give me your mailing address and I can put some forms in the mail to you! WEEEEEEEEE! Then you can fill them out prior to the appointment. No need to wait any longer than necessary on appointment day! (I relay our mailing address to her. I can hear her shuffling papers around) And what dental insurance do you have so we can pre-approve you?

Me: We don't have dental insurance. (shuffling stops. I hear a fist slam on the table) Being self-employed, you know, we have to pay $6,492.87 per month for health insurance with the world's highest deductible. You know... just in-case anything should happen to one of us. Nothing like paying out the ass on a gamble to stay healthy!

Holly (not so perky anymore): You don't have any dental insurance? What kind of people are you? Do you have any idea how you will pay for these braces?

Me: You mean to tell me there are parents who wouldn't put braces on their kids teeth, if they need them, because they don't have dental insurance? Then I guess we will pay out of pocket for the braces. Maybe we'll eat macaroni and cheese for the next 10 years but if my daughter needs braces, believe me, she will get them. I am not going to have her live a lifetime of not enjoying her own smile because I couldn't scrape the money up somehow.

I loved how prior to knowing we did not have insurance, she was so happy and thrilled to help me. But then after.... she could barely stomach speaking to me. I wonder if some people go to the appointment, listen to the doctor's speech about braces and then decide they can't do them because of cost. What the heck do braces cost anyway? Does anyone know what kind of cost I am looking at here? I'm don't mean to be a bitch about it but why do people judge me because of our insurance? WTF is up with that?

23 comments:

ccw said...

What a crazy phone conversation. Really what was her problem, even if you had dental insurance most cap lifetime orthodontic work at $500-$2,000. Plus, I have yet to hear of an office that didn't offer a reduction for full payment up front, a payment plan, or have a company that offered financing.

We have yet to do braces, but the initial retainers and work to help prepare her mouth for braces cost $2,400. If I am remembering correctly the braces would be $4-6,000 depending upon the type chosen. Of course, Kid L's teeth are coming in at a ridiculously slow rate meaning that the cost will probably be doube by the time she can actually have braces.

lime said...

um, at http://insaneasylime.blogspot.com i have done several posts on 'adventures in orhtodontia.' since you asked. it is running at $3900 for braces on the top and bottom both, estimating she will have the braces for 2 years. and the orhto we have is considered inexpensive for our area. it ain't cheap.

i've been judged on the insurance thing too. try having a ababy when youhave crap insurance. gees they act liek yiou are some sort of scum of the earth breeder with an IQ of 10 and youhave no right to reproduce. the whole attitude pisses me off no end. holly needs to be put in need of orthodontic services for being so pissy about your lack of insurance.

Sue said...

Ariels braces were about 2500, but that was 10 years ago. We don't have dental insurance either and when I signed up to pay, the girl asked me if I wanted to pay the balance in full or do the payment plan of 75 per month? I asked her if it was cheaper to pay in full, like was there a discount? She said "Well, no" so I said I'll take the payment plan then. I noticed at the next visit, that there was a sign up that said there was a 10% discount for cash up front. I was like "What's up with that?, that wasn't here last month?" She said I was the first one to ever ask if there was a discount, so Dr. Steinke thought maybe it would be a good idea. I don't think many people up here were paying cash for braces, I guess if you don't have dental insurance in Piscataquis County, you have crooked teeth.
So make sure you ask around, and check with other people who have been there, to make sure they guy isn't an ass or someone Hannah will hate. Because you have to go every month.
Good luck!
You could always bring her here to Dover every month, that would give you an excuse to visit!

Beth said...

My daughter needed braces for cosmetic reasons and our dental insurance didn't cover a dime of it. NOT getting them was never an option. They were $4,500. My son needs them also, but is still losing baby teeth. Congrats on the no cavities. My 12 and 13 year old have never had one either! =)

I used to be a dental assistant/office manager, etc., and can tell you it's not weird to not have dental insurance that pays for braces.

sherry said...

I had braces back in the day, and they were about $2,000. I'm guessing they're about double that, now. Oh, and insurance actually covers braces? I have incredible dental, none of which covers anything orthadontia related.

What kind of crack was this lady smokin?

Sharpie said...

I say you make Perky Holly have to wear some....

DixieDarlin' said...

Two kids in braces: EACH a little over $4,000.00. Insurance only covered $1,000.00. So little Miss Perky needs to get a grip. (Besides, they won't take the braces off until you pay in full.)

Sandi said...

I know someone who knows someone, and maybe we can get Perky Holly a care package. :)
Good luck.

melodyann said...

Hee, I like what sandi said....

Both my kids wore them Sheri, and it was about 4,000 each, I think. We had insurance that paid 1,000 each. And it was really good dental insurance too.

Also, make sure he's not one of those dentists that wants to put the braces on twice. Some of them want to put them on for a while when they are under say, age 13, and then put them on again later. You have double the cost then, plus double the pain because it DOES freakin hurt to wear braces.

Prepare yourself for it. She's gonna be miserable for a day or two every month.

Kim said...

Akkk! Ok. First, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, you are dealing with people who by choice scrape plaque,stick their fingers in other peoples mouths, gouge roots out, and yank teeth and think it's perfectly fine. Second, who the hell can afford health insurance privately anymore? NO, you are not strange or unusual. Braces run between 3 and 4 grand per kid, and your kid will bitch about them until the day they are off, it's fun! I love to pay for stuff that makes my life miserable. Sorry. I literally shake over anything dental related.

Larry said...

No kids here, so I guess I don't have to deal with the perky dental nazi from hell, but my own teeth are a bit screwed up since I never had my wisdom teeth pulled. One row of teeth on my jaw curves slightly inward to compensate. I'm sure you were just dying to know that :)

3outta5 said...

Oh boy Sheri. Just TELL me about the whole "no insurance crap". What a boatload. Not only did I have two kids and a gazillions miscarriages with no insurance, but my DD inherited her grandmother's (DH's side) soft teeth and needed $3000 of dental work at the age of 5. Really, I don't think I know anybody who has had the kind of dental insurance that would pay for braces. Really? Does that really exist? Sounds like a fairy tale to me!!!!

Carmel said...

Our oldest has to have his braces in 2 phases. Each phase is about $2500. Our insurance cap for dental will be used up by the time we reach the 2nd phase. #2 will need some work and I'd be shocked if #3 won't. They'll each have the same deductible but it obviously won't help for the entire treatment.

Stephany said...

We didn't have dental insurance for Trey's braces and we had to pay 4'200 and we are still paying and will be paying for probably the next 5 years or more. Our dentist was the same way when they found out we didnt have insurance but oh well Trey has his braces and thats all that matters.

. said...

Well they TOLD us it would be $2000 but it wound up being more like $3000 and my insurance paid $800 of that. Sadly, my son's teeth are TERRIBLE and I dread the day they tell us he needs to go. My middle daughter's teeth are very straight so it was NADA when they suggested we MIGHT look at Orthodontics for her one crooked tooth...ummmmm...no thanks!

Heather said...

We'll be looking at braces too - both hubby and I had them. Ugh.

And what a bitch - excuse my french, but that is just a pissy way to treat people for a stupid reason. I'm sure they've had people w/o insurance not pay, but that's just wrong. Grr!

Lauren said...

Yikes... I guess there's something to be said for loving your job -- it annoys the hell out of people! LOL

As for the dental insurance -- many plans don't cover orthodontics, or ortho is offered as an optional rider -- and even then, it's subject to a cap.

I would definitely ask about self-pay discounts. Sometimes they'll let you pay the reasonable and customary charge if they aren't the kind of dentist who balance bills.

I guess I was the favored child in my family -- my brother had a mouth FULL of braces AND the head gear... I, on the other hand, didn't need so much as a spacer. My niece has braces and LOVES them... thinks they're cool and gets a different color every time she goes in. :o)

Shiela said...

Just got an estimate today as a matter of fact! $4,415.00!! No, not a type-o!
Granted, my kids all have the narrow pallet, overbite, crowding thing going on - so think of this as the "worst case" option!

Also wanted to tell you again how very much I LOVE YOUR BLOG! There aren't many that I honestly belly laugh out loud at! I enjoy your sense of humor so much!

Eileen said...

As the mother of a family with NO DENTAL INSURANCE let me assure you that you are not alone. My advice, if at all possible, run don't walk to the next available orthodontist. You don't need to deal wtih people like this. Our dentist knows we don't have insurance and that we pay our bills on time. They don't advise routine or unecessary procedures for dh and I (I went 4+ years without x-rays) because they understand that our children's dental health is our first priorty. Hope you can find another more understanding orthodontics office.

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