Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My rant about the pediatric dentist's office

Let me preface this by saying I have nothing against the pediatric dentist himself. He's just fine. Whatever. This whole shenanigan started about 6 months ago when the office would call me every couple of days and say "we've had a cancellation, would you like to schedule your children for a visit?" and I would politely decline because, you know, if I wanted to schedule a visit, I would, you know, call them myself. Whoever heard of a dentist's office calling you to schedule your appointment. So I figure they are trying to drum up business, which actually really irritates me. Because here's the deal.

We don't have dental insurance. By choice. And that's right there, plain and simple for them to read in our file.

So every year when I haul all three kids in for their annual cleanings (which by the way for a child is a hygienist with a toothbrush...trust me, it's nothing fancy!), we pay for that baby out of pocket. Which is almost $400. Now, when I do my best to take good care of my kids' teeth, teach them good oral hygiene, and not a one of them has even ever had a hint of a cavity, why in the world would I want to take them in more than once a year?

My first little rant is about dental insurance. My husband and I have crunched the numbers. Several times. He works for a small company that doesn't offer a group plan. I am, well. Retired, you know. :) Currently unemployed, shall we say. So we have to purchase our own health, dental, vision, life, you name it...insurance. And dental was one that just did not add up. When you add up the cost of monthly premiums to the cost of co-pays for visits plus the cost of any procedures that might need to be done, you are out MORE money than if you just pay for annual visits out of pocket, even if it is $400. Seriously. That's crazy, isn't it? So it isn't that we can't afford it, it is that we choose not to spend our money this way. And that is what I felt like saying to the nasty lovely receptionist when I called to make the kids' annual appointment last week.

Phone conversation with meany super-nice receptionist:

Me: Hi, I'm calling to make an apppointment for my 3 kids. Yes, we've been there before.

Her: Last name?

Me: Olsen. O-L-S-E-N (I just spell it automatically. It's like my last name is OlsenO-L-S-E-N).

Her: E-N?

Me: Yep, E-N.

Her: Hmmmm. I'm not finding any Olsen with an E-N. Are you sure you've been here before?

Me: Yes, we were there last year. (Oh, and somewhere in here I am pretty sure she asked me if I was sure my last name was spelled with an E-N. Seriously???!!!)

Her: Oh (surprised!) It's been over a year?

Me: Well, probably right about a year. I think it was last July.

Her: (Big sigh). Well. If it's been over a year, your account is inactivated. We try to see our patients twice a year.

Me: (Blood rising to my face) Well, because we have to pay out of pocket, we choose to only come once a year. Is that a problem?

Her: Well, no, but I have to re-activate your account now. After a certain number of calls are made, we inactivate the account, like I said.

Me: If it's too much trouble...

Her: No, no, no, it's OK.
Etc, etc., etc.

Now, if you were me, what would you have done? I always leave those situations thinking I should have done something differently and am not thinking clearly at the time enough to do it! And as a health care provider myself, trust me, these people should be glad they are getting people in the door for preventative exams, not berating them for their lack of frequency. To me this conversation is yet another example of the barriers that people face every day in gaining access to healthcare or dental care or whatever. If someone is given this much grief just over the phone for crying out loud, how willing am I going to be to call back and make another appointment? I like this dentist, and am willing to give this office the benefit of the doubt--for this one appointment, mind you--but trust me, they better be on their good behavior! :) I shall keep you posted about our upcoming appointments on Thursday. Max has been brushing like a crazy man, for some reason he is terrified of a cavity. Fear can work wonders on oral hygiene! Enough of my rant...thanks for "listening" and happy Wednesday...

1 comment:

  1. Way to go on keeping your kids teeth so healthy! Sounds like someone needs a lesson on customer service?! I have reported such unprofessional behavior b/c I find it extremely irritating in health care!!