Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Does the health care bill cover dentists?

Because my grad school health insurance does not. And it's been about a year since my last cleaning, so I've had some minor stirrings of concern about how I can avoid paying the $100 upfront cost of a cleaning, plus who knows how much for x-rays since my last ones are back in Virginia and filling any cavities that may have appeared. Here are the options:
1) The dental school: Apparently, dental students offer discounted "training cleanings" that very much resemble the experience of getting a discounted haircut from a stylist-in-training at a nice salon--it takes four hours, and then a professional has to jump in at the end and repair the damage. Also, no possibility of rectifying any cavities or other tooth distress.
2) The cheap "new patient special" at this place in Porter Square: Note the one-star review. Also the problem whereby money saved now means I can never go back again.
3) What's a few years without a cleaning anyway? I mean, nothing is aching or bleeding. So I should be ok, right?

Stay tuned for cheapness needs new glasses but doesn't have any insurance for that either.


alex said...

Get an eye exam! RETINAL HOLES.

Phoebe said...

$100? I have medical insurance but not dental as well, and the cheap i.e. dental-student option is well over $200 upfront. The real-dentist route ought to come with something Louis Vuitton.

I'm also at that one-year mark, and am wondering if I should just forget it and ask for dentures as a graduation present.

Britta said...

Hmmm....Haven't been to a cleaning in a while, but those prices seem exorbitant. I paid $70 for a cleaning from a top rated dentist in Australia about 2 years ago, and thought it was a good deal, but my mother thought it was a rip, and said you could easily get a $50 teeth clean in America. Maybe that is not true? Are you sure there isn't a low income clinic that cleans teeth?

How often you needs to go depends on your teeth. I went about 3 years between college and my next clean, and my teeth were fine (if a little grungy), except for some impacted wisdom teeth (the real reason I went). Presumably, if you already had those removed, it wouldn't be an issue. My sister went 4 years, and needed one filling. Of course, I also know people who waited 3 years, and had to have multiple root canals, so I'd base it on the personal likelihood of your teeth getting cavities.

Britta said...

p.s. do you have a dental/eye discount card? My university, which is not known for treating its grad students well, has that, and I get between 10-40% services at select dentists/optometrists. If not, you should agitate for at least that. It is Harvard, after all, I mean, they should really be providing you with more comprehensive insurance.

PG said...

In case the title of this post was a sincere question, from what I understand the health care legislation allows for stand-alone dental benefit plans to be sold through the exchanges. It also provides for grants to people doing research on prevention of dental caries, so you could always volunteer yourself for that; I'm sure someone at Harvard has already written a grant proposal. And try to get in the national surveys, which are supposed to involve "tooth-level surveillance." See Sec. 4102 of the Senate bill passed around Christmas for more on "Oral Healthcare Prevention Activities."

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Cambridge I went to the Tufts dental school and got a very cheap crown, but it took the guy for-fucking-ever to do it, with multiple lookins from his clinical prof.

As to just not going - not a dreadful choice, but you don't have a hygienist-harridan riding you about your failures. If you can keep on with flossing, brussing with baking soda, toothpicks, etc., probably no big deal.


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