Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Can you really get emergency dental care when you need it?

Can you really get emergency dental care when you need it?

What if you don't have dental insurance or cash on hand to pay for the procedure can you still get it done?

For a lot of Americans the answer to these questions would be NO, those who are lucky enough to have insurance through their employer or who can afford it on their own would more then likely answer yes to both of those questions, really this blog is not for them, sorry.

I recently found myself in a position to where I needed emergency dental care and was very worried I might not be able to get the care I needed on an emergency basis. I had a tooth break off at the gum and the pain was almost unbearable, after doing some research online I was able to locate a phone number for 24 hour dentists in my area 1-800-dentist.

After waiting for maybe one minute I was talking to a representative and explaining my situation, within I'd say 15 minutes I was scheduled with a dentist for an emergency procedure the only catch? I had to wait until morning to call the dentist office and get the details for payment expectations. I knew right away this was not a good sign but, I got as much money together as i possibly could, even borrowing some from my daughter and mother in law.

My employer does not offer any health benefits to us employees but, they sure as hell have it for themselves and to boot after Obama took office they cut our hours and we have not worked a full 40 week since, I have been looking for another job but, they are not easy to come by these days. With that said you now know why I would have to borrow some money to help out with an emergency extraction.

This morning I got up and was sure to call in an hour before scheduled work time since I had to call the dentist office at 8am, this was the first day I have called in sick from work in 3 years, wow how strange t felt to call in sick lol. As I figured the night before the dentist office couldn't help me because they wanted payment in full at the time the services were rendered. I know I am not alone in this type of situation there are millions of people just like me who are barely getting by and never seems to be fully prepared financially for such emergencies.

I called no less than 8 other dentist offices, free clinics (which I didn't qualify for) all to no avail, now I am figuring I lost a day of work for nothing, will go back to work tomorrow in the same shape I am now and my boss is going to be pissed because he will think I lied about the whole thing...yeah they don't trust any of their employees, including me and I have been there 17 years. So, it was back to the computer, back to research 30 minutes later it finally paid off.

I found a local dentist but the office was closed, I left a detailed message about my dental needs and my current financial situation and figured they would call me back and tell me there was nothing they could do for me. Boy was that ever far from the truth, they called about 5 minutes after their office opened and the receptionist was very pleasant and caring toward my situation. She told me the initial visit was going to be $65 and that would include the x-rays, the procedure would cost anywhere from $100-$215 needless to say the cost didn't surprise me it was what happened after that that did.

I explained to the receptionist that I could definitely do $165 if that was all it would cost but anything above that I could not do because of my current financial situation, she then told me they would do the procedure for a flat fee $165. One extraction plus x-rays for $165 I had no choice but to accept her offer.

So we set the appointment for 10:45 that morning which was about 1 hour and fifteen minutes form the time we were on the phone. Of course I had no cash of my own on hand so I took the $50 I borrowed from my daughter and went to the bank and withdrew my last little bit of cash which was just a few dollars over the $115 I needed to complete the $165 for the procedure.

So I made it to the dentist office, nervous as hell, filled out all the paperwork and waited to be seen. Okay, like most people I don't like the dentist, I am not too cool with someone causing pain in my mouth, I don't like the drills or the needles but, I had to bite the bullet and get the work done asap.

They finally call me to the back and it's like red alert, red alert, warning, warning, someone is going to stick a needle in your gums, someone is going to cause you pain and my nerves got 100X worse than they were before lol. It wasn't actually that bad but I was literally shaking like a chihuahua and then the x-rays were done. Seriously though it really wasn't that bad.

They bring the x-rays in and the doctor comes in and takes a look at them and it is at that time I find out I had two broken teeth that needed to come out. He looks at me and says which one do you want me to take out, my response was your the expert you decide which is in most need of being removed because I cannot afford to have them both taken out today. He then asks me if I take them both out when can you bring me the extra money for the second tooth, I told him I didn't know and explained to him what I had explained to the receptionist when I set the appointment up. Then the shocker of all shockers came out of his mouth!

He looked at the nurse and said I am pulling both of those teeth and we are only going to charge for one of them, I could hardly believe it and I thanked him for his generosity and he told me sometime you just gotta look out for others when they really need it. That's right, he pulled both of the teeth and only charged me the $165 I was to pay for the single extraction and I am more than thankful for what he done for me and that is why I am writing this blog.

I purposely did not mention his name, not because I am being selfish for myself but because I am sure he doesn't want every Tom, Dick and Harry scheduling an appointment expecting the same from him that he done for me. The actual reason for this blog post is to show anybody that is in my current situation that if you do your research you can find the one dentist in your neighborhood who will do the same for you. You just cannot give up, they are out there and they really do have compassion for their fellow human being.

Take my experience and use it to your advantage, don't give up because if you need emergency dental work you may just catch a lucky break like I did and, it all started with a phone call to 1-800-dentist

Take care and good luck!
James