People Shouldn’t Have to Make Health Care Decisions Based on Money – or Lack of It

by on October 22, 2010 · 42 comments

in Economy, Health, Popular, The Widder Curry

dental dentistI am very lucky. As a child growing up in the Beverly Hills/West Hollywood area of Los Angeles, there was not much that I wanted that I didn’t get. Sure, I was just a child during WWII, but my parents were well off and I always got one piece of bubble gum a week – I had to put it in a glass of water to save for the next day. (I wonder if that was the precursor to putting my dentures in a glass of water when I got older.)

Later, after quitting high school and working my first few jobs, I still made enough money to buy what I wanted; health insurance was covered 100% by my employer; I drove my own car and was able to make payments without trouble. I always thought of myself as “upper middle class” because I never felt deprived of things I wanted. In retrospect, I am not proud of these feelings; others suffered while I led a good life. I have always been a “giver” and not a receiver, and tried to do everything I could do to make things easier for my friends and acquaintances. Now I look back and wonder if they felt that I was trying to “buy” their friendship, which was surely not the case.

I married twice; each of my spouses were in the educational field, not making a lot of money, but allowing us to live comfortably with three young daughters. (One husband at a time, of course.) When Bob, my husband of 45 years retired in 1980, he was a Superintendent of Schools in a little town in Central California. His top salary was $29,000 a year, and he retired on that. (Note: The same position in the same town now pays $100,000 a year.) Because he was a teacher, he did not have any social security benefits that amounted to anything – $250 a month – and his retirement from the State Teachers Fund was less than $1000 a month.

I was working, and although I felt I was no longer “upper” middle class, I still considered myself “middle class.” Our children were out of the house; there was just Bob and I, and our dog (s), but when I retired in 2004, I found that we were not longer able to live as comfortably as before, but we were not destitute. We had some money in 401K’s, which tanked in 2008. But…we still had our house in the Sunset Cliff’s area of San Diego – greatest investment we ever made in 1968! – and although we wanted to do some traveling we never did because we did not feel we could afford it.

Because Bob’s retirement was so small to begin with, we decided to take the option of collecting more monies while he was alive rather than spread it out until I passed on too.

And then Bob died.

With his death his pension stopped. My social security was more than his, so I lost his too. And…after all of these years, I no longer thought of myself as “middle class.” In fact, I might even be described as living below the poverty level. Quite a change for my psyche, but not much in my style of living, because I have always been fugal in my spending and have not felt the real “pinch” yet.

dental logoWhat happened today caused me to rethink my philosophy of life of fortunes and misfortunes: I went to the dentist for a routine teeth cleaning.

I had budgeted for this visit for the past 6 months and even knowing that I had some insurance that would cover this visit, I was unprepared for the $134 I was charged. The cleaning was only $48. But then I had to have a limited oral evaluation by the dentist – another $36 – had to have 4 x rays at the cost of $25 – and then I had a fluoride treatment of another $25. So much for my budget of $75.

Then, to top it off – excuse the pun – I need to have a root canal and crown on the very last molar on the right side. I will be sent out for the root canal so I do not know the cost, but the cost for the crown is estimated to be $1518 with my insurance!

You know what? I’m NOT going to have the procedure done. I’m going to have the tooth pulled! There is no way in the world that I can pay that money to have the recommended procedure.

dental cartoonI think about all the people I see that have big gaps in their mouths where their teeth used to be. I have felt so sorry for those people: How do they eat? Aren’t they concerned about how they look? What are the factors that caused them to lose their teeth? I wonder if it all boils down to the “money factor”.

I would imagine that if you were homeless it would be very difficult to do proper oral hygiene. It would be difficult to do any kind of hygiene properly. But I am not homeless; I use an expensive Phillips Sonar Toothbrush to brush my teeth twice a day; I floss; I see the dentist every 6 months, yet I will elect to have the tooth out rather than pay the money for the crown.

People should not have to make health care decisions based on money – or lack of it.

homeless I am human drawingPeople should be able to make the best decision and follow through with that decision regardless of the cost. We should not be allowed to neglect our health care because we can’t afford the procedures.

The greatest nation in the world still balks at taking care of its inhabitants, yet we send money overseas all the time to help people in other nations. When are we going to start taking care of our people right here?

As I was shopping at the market immediately after my dentist appointment, I watched many people pick up Halloween candy to put in their baskets for the 31st of October.

The thought crossed my mind that if all those people pooled their money into a “Teeth for Homeless” campaign, I bet millions of dollars of money could be generated to aid those people.

And not just the homeless either. All people, in these great United States, that need proper oral care. It’s too late for this year – but what about the next year and years after that? Will the candy producers go broke? I hardly think so. Maybe it is “food” for thought!

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb Gormlie October 22, 2010 at 10:02 am

I really enjoyed your article because it speaks to an issue so many of have encountered with passive resistance because we have such few options. Personally, the every 6 month visit is a thing of the past for me. I also shopped for a more reasonable good dentist, and then I began my search for everything I could find on natural oral hygiene. Most dentists do not believe in this approach unless they are biological dentists, but it has so much merit. If we toss the toothpaste with unhealthy ingredients, the mouthwash with offensive dyes and unnatural colors, and stop eating sugar laden foods we can minimize the need for those costly visits. There has to be another way for those of us who do not have disposable income to live in a world that is increasingly draining us of any cash that could go to better causes.
Thank you for your honesty in bringing attention to an important issue.


Andy Cohen October 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

Thanks, Judi! Maybe someday more people will “get it.” Access to good heathcare is a RIGHT, not a privilege reserved for the wealthy. Personally, I just don’t understand how people would rather see others get sick and die simply because they could not afford to go to the doctor; why people should lose their smile because they can’t afford the dentist (like me…..I haven’t been to the dentist in over a year because I just can’t afford the visits anymore without insurance).

We need more stories like yours out there. Hopefully it can serve to hammer the message home.


judicurry October 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Thanks, Barb. I hate to say what an eye opener this dentist visit was for me, but I have gone on in my own little world without giving much thought to the basic needs of others. Sure, I contribute to the food bank; I give my used clothing to the homeless or donate it to Goodwill – where they make money on it – but it never really hit home as the visit did yesterday.

I, for one, will need to revisit my philosophies re: this matter. I KNOW there is more that I can do; more that I should do. And, an objective, not starting in 2011 but starting now, is to make some big changes, and, hopefully, bring others with me.



Frank Gormlie October 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Hey Judi, can we go with you on your journey? We at the OB Rag?


judicurry October 22, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Hop on! I am feeding the mules and donkey’s (is there a difference?) so when they meet resistance they know what to do. I’ll do a “step-by-step” and have the obrag with me all the way. Have you ever led a mule team before? It might look good on your resume!



judicurry October 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Andy, when I start the “hammering” I hope you will join us. Maybe we can smile together and close the “gap.”


Goatskull October 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

The sad thing is there are sooo many people who do think like that. People who’s mentality is “i’ve go mine”, and as far as they’re concerned every one else can go fall off a cliff. No heart, no compassion, nothing. I have the displeasure of working with a few who think like that.


Wireless Mike October 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Judi, you are in good company. Like so many people, I lost my career to outsourcing and could not afford to pay over $600 a month for COBRA without a job. I haven’t been to the dentist in years because I can’t afford the cost. Same goes for the eye doctor, so I squint and hold my bifocals out to read. Without insurance or a significant income, it just isn’t going to happen.

We watched our Congress negotiate away meaningful healthcare reforms like single-payer, public option and price controls. Now conservative politicians are vowing to overturn the reforms that were made, in favor of the old, failed “free market” approach. Watch out for that “Invisible hand of the free market”, it’s coming for your wallet.


Andy Cohen October 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I wouldn’t be too critical of Congress for “negotiating away” single-payer, or even the public option. Not yet, anyway. Single payer had exactly ZERO chance at ever passing. Unfortunately, I do think that there was a slight chance at getting the public option, but it would have been a very risky move and could have cost them the whole bill.

Like most Dem politicians tell us, the healthcare bill that was signed into law is far from perfect, but it’s a very good start. Once the thing starts really taking hold, then there will be further openings for the public option. There was simply far too much resistance, and the risk of seeing the entire effort fail was far too great. So they got what they could, and we’ll go back later and start chipping away at the rest.

It may take years, even decades, but this is an important first step. Hell, even Medicare wasn’t originally nearly as comprehensive as it is today, and it took decades to get there.

Bottom line, and I hate to sound like a politician, but I think it’s right on the mark: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or even the good-start.

Damn……..I may have to write something about the HCR law…….


judicurry October 23, 2010 at 10:22 am

I guess what bothers me the most about this is that so many states are already suing to not have to do what is in the bill. Rather than look at the positive side of things, they are being “republicans” about it and thinking only about those that are above the poverty level. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court in their infinite wisdom, will see the healthcare bill for what it is; not for what it is not.


RB October 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm

The real reason so many states are taking legal action against the health care law is about money. In an attempt to put lipstick on this pig, Congress increased the the medicaid roles and increased the cost to the states for this health care reform.
Washington has not figured out that the states are broke. I hope the Supreme Court is guided by the Constitution and I do not see how the government can demand individuals purchase a service (insurance) from a private company or be subjected to penalties or fines.


dave rice October 24, 2010 at 9:43 pm

That’s the part that gets me – public option would’ve been one thing and something I think was worth risking the bill on, but I just don’t think we should be forced by law to buy coverage from a private carrier.


Goatskull October 25, 2010 at 6:45 am

Doesn’t make sense does it. Most likely people who don’t have private health insurance probably don’t have it because they can’t afford it so they get punished by having to pay a fine?


Molly October 25, 2010 at 8:50 am

I know, being forced to have coverage is so authoritarian, geez! But wait, isn’t that what happens when you’re forced to buy car insurance? And if you don’t have it, when stopped, what happens? A fine? OMG!


Sarah October 25, 2010 at 10:31 am

That’s all good, Molly, but nobody forces you to have a car in the first place. I don’t have to pay car insurance ’cause I choose not to own a car. I’m not sure how I can choose not to have a body that might get hurt or ill.

Maybe the solution is that if you don’t want to pay insurance you can “opt out” and wear some sort of tag at all times. It could be like a medical alert bracelet, only instead of giving life-saving information it would say, “Please do not give this person medical attention, they have opted out of the system”

That way, when someone is ill or injured we’ll know whether or not to get them help. It will save a lot of time and resources if we determine this before they arrive at the hospital.

No matter how you look at the issue of affordable health care it always circles around to the same answer, doesn’t it?


Molly October 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

Sarah, I know no one forces you to have a car, but have you tried working outside of home, or tried doing anything with our public transportation? This way of life that society dishes out to us in Southern California forces us to have a vehicle if we want to get out of our house or to a job – unless we’re lucky enough to have work within walking distance.


Sarah October 25, 2010 at 11:52 am


My point was that you can’t compare the requirement to have car insurance with a requirement to have health insurance, that’s all.

Of course I’ve “tried” working outside the home and yes, I’ve also suffered through the experience of using public transportation.

As far as society “dishing out a way of life”, I prefer to choose my own lifestyle and live somewhere that can accomodate it. Luck has little, if anything, to do with it.

I am fully in favor of radical health insurance reform.

Goatskull October 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Apples and oranges. I’m all for healthcare reform, but I don’t get being required to purchase or or pay a fine. I thought the purpose of it was to make it available to everybody.

As for the car thing, last I checked no one is forced to own a car.


Molly October 25, 2010 at 8:48 am

I know – that’s horrible and unheard of! My god!… I’ve got to go now and pay my car insurance – WAIT! I’m paying for coverage from a private carrier??


Marilyn Steber October 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I guess you aren’t old enough to have been forced to get Medicare part D or pay a penalty. When AARP comes knocking on your door to join, ask how that helped anyone except Dollar Bill Maquire, big pharma and United Healthcare.


John Koca October 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm

hey Judi, always nice to read your stories, this one a sad truth.


Patty Jones October 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

It’s no wonder so many people go to Tijuana for a dentist, even with insurance the cost of dental work is outrageous. It’s always pissed me off the way most dentists make you feel when you have some kind off problem, then shame you into spending waaaay too much money.

It’s always been my opinion that dental care should be included in medical care. Having a bad tooth can really affect your health in so many ways, many cardiac patients have to be very careful because an infection in your mouth can travel straight to your heart. I read somewhere that people who have poor dental care tend not to live as long as those who can afford regular dental visits…

Also, some dental insurance companies will give you trouble about paying for an extraction if your dentist recommends expensive crowns and implants because you are not following the dentist’s course of treatment. Such a racket.


Zach on the side October 23, 2010 at 12:24 am

Judi, I hope Patty’s comment won’t be true for you, that an extraction won’t be covered because it’s not the dentist’s recommendation. A racket indeed. If your choice costs less than the dentist’s approach, why shouldn’t everyone be happy?

I do have a word of advice, from personal experience. If you do have the extraction, be very careful about keeping that area thoroughly clean. The next-door tooth will become exposed on that side, and this exposed surface is much more vulnerable to decay, fast decay. The fluoridated water, which strengthens all the teeth, hasn’t gotten to that surface which will now be exposed. Just a word of caution.


Marilyn Steber October 23, 2010 at 10:56 am

I never begrudged my dentist making a nice living because I knew I knew his mother from the food service department at the college where I worked. I knew how much she sacrificed to send him to dental school and set up a small business with big overhead. He had a faithful office manager and one other employee and a couple of hygienists. That was pretty much it. I never waited longer than 5 minutes to get in the chair. When I had to go out to the market for less expensive dental care, I went to a huge operation in Mission Valley. Five doctors, 10 employees, god-knows-how-many others, and I had to wait 30 minutes average. And then there was a Closer in an office with a computer, a phone, and an adding machine (no kidding). Like I was buying a car.
I went back to the first man and negotiated a “senior discount” and opened a savings account to pay for it. No plans, no asking the company for approval, just me making decisions.


ernie dieterle October 23, 2010 at 11:25 am

is that my web site? My experience with the dentist, who is a close personal friend. When I was in my 70’s, and, having my 6 months cleaning I asked him if I could come every 8-10 months for my cleaning? Why would you want to do that, he asked. I’m trying to have my teeth, money, and life to all run out at the same time! Where ever your going Ernie, you’ll need your teeth, he replied. What do you suppose he knows that I don’t? hummmmmmm. At any rate, he’s one of the nicest Dr. I know, and did a boat load of charity work. The reason I’m on the side of the dentist is, my grandson is in dental school right now. AND, he said I could get free dental work when he gets out. The only problem is I’m in my 80’s now and I’m afraid my pull date date is coming up! Curses, foiled again! Enjoy your comments, Judi! As they used to say on Laugh In (now you know I’m not lying about my age) SOCK IT TO EM!


Candy October 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

Wow, Judi. I’m so sorry. Sadly it’s a common problem, but it shouldn’t be. My Mom also opted to have her tooth pulled rather than spend the money on a root canal & crown, even though her dentist kindly takes monthly payments. Access to good health care & dental care should be a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it or have excellent health insurance coverage. Thanks for this insightful article & all your interesting articles.


judicurry October 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Hi Candy. Thanks for your story about your Mom. I, too, have made the decision to have the tooth removed rather than spend the money on a crown. If it were a front tooth I might make a different decision, but no one will see this one, except for the dentist and me, and I can use the money in other ways.


RB October 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I wonder what people would be willing to give up in exchange for dental care.
Of course most people give up money either directly to the dentist or through insurance for dental care. And of course most people are willing to let someone else pay for their dental care, usually through a government program. But what would those without money be willing to do? Would they be willing tutor in the schools? Would they be willing to work in the parks? Would they be willing to retire and receive social security later? Would they be willing to allow tort reform in both health and dental care? Would they be willing to end some other government program to fund dental care? Would they be willing to tax themselves rather than others?
Just wondering?


Sarah October 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm

In order to receive dental care for myself and those I love I am willing to tax myself. I am also willing to tax myself in order for Judi to have her teeth cleaned, as well as for you and your loved ones to have dental care, too.

And I’m TOTALLY willing to give up a couple of government programs to save some money towards health care. Can we please start with the war in Iraq? Then perhaps we can move on to the one in Afghanistan.


RB October 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm

After spending time in the line at the DMV this week, I think I will pass on the government dental plan.

Ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan would be an excellent way to start fiscal responsibility. Actually that’s what I thought I was voting for in 2008.


Sarah October 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm

As a disabled woman and a vet who couldn’t possibly afford a $750.00/month COBRA payment after losing my job due to injury, I give thanks DAILY for a Government Medical Plan.


judicurry October 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Hi Sarah, Goatskull, Wireless, RB, Patty, Zack, Marilyn, etc

Thank you all so much for your posts. The health care system, be it dental, mental, visual, hard of hearing, or physical, is badly in need of some first aid of its own. So many of you had great ideas. Goatskull was so “right on” when he stated that once people have their own they really don’t give a damn about those that are not as fortunate. When Marilyn talked about how she had a good dentist but had to seek less expensive care, she felt like she was going into a car sales. I felt the same way when I told the receptionist that I could not afford the $1500 for the crown that was recommended for me. She whipped out some papers – in a very good-natured way – that would allow me to make payments, interest free, for a year to pay for the work. The trouble was that even with the “interest free loan” I still could not afford the payments. The “interest-loans” would add hundreds of dollars to the $1500 quote. Marilyn did the smart thing; went back to the original dentist and negotiated. But…can you negotiate with Sharp? Kaiser? Scripps? I think not, so what can we do.

RB wonders if people would do community service of many different kinds to “earn” money for dental care. I think the idea is a good one, but I am not sure that all those that might participate should be working in the schools, the parks, tutoring, etc. And, of course, it just isn’t dental care? It’s “all-around medical care.” But the idea has a lot of merit.

Patty talked about how many people now go to Tijuana for dental care. I used to do that when I worked in San Ysidro, but now-a-days I am very reluctant to go across the border. I think I can do without some teeth rather than go without my life. I agree with her that medical care should include dental care – and in many instances it does. However, the cost is added into the premiums and that can be prohibitive too. And…my experience with that situation is that, for the most part, I would not have “chosen” the dentist the plans allow.

Zack’s comment about Patty saying that some insurance carriers will not pay for an extraction if the dentist recommends other avenues to follow. I agree. The insurance company should be thrilled that they don’t have to pay the high price of a crown when they can pay a low price for an extraction. However, I am sure they rationalize that IF the tooth is pulled, maybe the patient will want a bridge; a transplant, etc., and that will cost more in the long run. (My Goodness! I hope I don’t sound like I am defending the insurance companies. NEVER!

RB is trying to put some faith in the Supreme Court coming up with the decision that the government cannot mandate that all individuals purchase an insurance service. I gave up on the Supreme Court making honest decisions with the appointed Bush to office. I don’t think that any decision they make will be the right one. Not with the current make-up the the bench.

Wireless, I feel for you. I wish I had known you several months ago when I donated 25 pairs of glasses to the Lion’s Club. I know all about eyes – and the inability to see well. Wish I could do something for you. I wondered what that hand was doing in my pocket. Thanks for telling me. Wish I could do something about it.

And Sarah, Bless you. I would not ever ask you – or any one person – to “tax themselves” so that I can also enjoy healthy teeth. How right you are that if we gave up a few mundane things – like the war in Afghanistan and/or Iraq- there might be something left for the US Citizens that are struggling to keep their heads above the poverty line.
What happened to the honesty of government and “goodwill to men -AND WOMEN! Look what is coming out now in Wikileaks. And people want to go back to that era. You don’t have to be taxed individually, people. Stand up for what you believe, and work to make those beliefs to be put into action.

Sorry for the rambling….felt that I had to answer all the posts I received on this matter, and it was easier to lump it all together. Maybe when I smile at you because things happened correctly, there won’t be a gap!



Marilyn Steber October 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

What would I give up? Long ago I gave up newspapers, a NEW car, shopping at Nordies–scratch that–Buying at Nordstroms, paying full price for food, a twice a month cleaning lady who wouldn’t negotiate a lower pay.
I still manage to contribute to the 1st UU church and to other groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center because I value those organizations who help those poorer than me. I live on a small pension and Social Security and I pay Federal and State income taxes. Sure, I’d tax myself so my neighbor can smile and speak with dignity.


judicurry October 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Hi Marilyn, I, too, ask myself what I could – should – give up to make it easier for others to achieve their goals. But I have found that the more I give up, the more need there seems to be. I haven’t had a new car – ever! I don’t shop anymore – and Nordies Rack used to be my favorite place; I look for day-old food; and I still contribute to the Susan Komen Foundation; the Lung and Heart Associations; the Food Bank, etc. I stopped Netflix; I have the lowest Cable service offered by Cox; I pay taxes too. (Although I can’t understand how a person living under the poverty level still needs to pay taxes when the wealthy don’t have to pay). But…I’d tax myself more if I thought it would help. However, I look at Proposition D on this ballot. More sales tax? I’m on Social Security and for the 2nd year in a row there is no cost of living wage. The same people will be running the city that are currently running it, and they want more money from me? This just does not seem logical to me. So..tell me where I can help – really help – and I’ll be a player.

Thanks for your post.


Marilyn Steber October 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Oh, dear! Helping other people achieving their Goals isn’t what I had in mind. Helping people keep their teeth and health IS. I forget who the congressman was who said during the healthcare debate: “If you get sick, die quickly”.
Once upon a time my grandfather quoted this ditty: A friend in need is a friend indeed, and I have many such. The only drawback is, indeed, they seem to need so much! 8-)


judicurry October 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Forgive me – I meant “health goals.” Taking care of oneself is a priority that should not be brooked by lack of monies. I totally agree with you – helping people stay well is the goal.


judicurry October 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

I think that no one gave “universal health care” a chance. I house foreign language students from all over the world and they all have, by far, better coverage than we do in the US. Sure, there are strata’s in the system, and if you want more coverage you can pay for it, but no one in these other countries have to go without medical care.

Molly’s comment about public transportation is right on. (If you haven’t read about my efforts to get downtown to see a play, you can read it right here on the OB Rag web site.

Today the news was that the cost of food is going to go up dramatically for the rest of the year. Isn’t that just great? Well, if I let my teeth go to ruin I won’t have to worry about eating; and if I give up my car I won’t have to go anywhere because the public transportation in San Diego sucks; and not getting a COLA from Social Security for the second year in a row will lessen my buying power, so it doesn’t leave a lot left of life and the pursuit of happiness.

What can I say positive today? Hmmm. The rain has stopped, at least at this moment.


Marilyn Steber October 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I am tempted to talk about my cousins in Germany who are getting their university education but that will open another can of gummy worms.
I campaigned for single payer like Howard Dean did, but there is too much money in healthcare paying off spokepeople against it. Single payer for Californians doesn’t have enough “juice” to get that passed, either, but they trudge on.
Californians don’t organize well. And here in San Diego, the Military Industrial complex has too much work for our citizens to be small d democratic.
Perhaps there are more people on the lower level of Maslow’s pyramid of needs on this site than we think.


judicurry October 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm

It is still a puzzle how those of us with a reduced income – or none at all – will be able to afford health care of any kind. I moved to San Diego from Berkeley. What a change in philosophy. There, if there was anyway to help someone needing anything, it was done without question. Not here – and you are right – the Military complex is too narrow-minded to see the benefits that might happen.

You don’t just have to look at Germany for university education. Look at Brazil; Spain; etc. It is a by-in to the future.

AARP – what a joke. They are the reason there is no “bargaining” for drugs; they are the reason we can’t get our medication legally in Canada – or Mexico.
Secure Horizons was an “OK” organization until they were bought by AARP and premiums went up; prices went up, etc. And…do we really have a choice? Hell no!

I support Sarah when she talks about “radical health insurance reform.” It is so greatly needed, and, it is doable.


Marcia October 26, 2010 at 12:36 am

Hi Judi,
I understand what you’re going through. After being terminated from work for being out ill pass 6 months (and I’m still ill) I lost all my benefits. I was able to obtain a medical plan through Contra Costa County at their Richmond Health Center for $300 every quarter (thank God) but no dental services for adults.
Just my luck I started having some discomfort and swelling in my mouth. I was at the dentist in March before my surgery and was told all I needed was a filling which I had completed. I called around and the cheapest price for x-rays and exam was $150. I called my regular dentist thinking she would work with my budget, no such luck. A while back I remember doing a research for my clients on low cost dental services and UCSF dental school students has a program, but there’s a catch. If you have certain minor problems you pay way below the cost of what you would pay at a community dentist, if you need more advance service the cost goes up and if you need major services you will be treated by their faculty dentist and pay the community dentist price.
Another drawback, I was given an appointment immediately. My first appointment was last Monday it lasted 2 1/2 hours and all I had done was a small assessment. No x-rays, the x-ray department was running behind. So I was rescheduled for this Monday at 8:30a for x-rays and 9am to see the dentist. X-rays was not completed until almost 10am. I waited another 20 mins before I was seen and guess what? My assessment is still not completed. I started to get frustrated but I had to stop and think, all I’ve paid so far is $30 including toll fees twice to get into the city so I didn’t spend $150 or more. On 11/8/10 I’m back to finish my assessment and get a treatment plan, then I’ll hear the total cost. The student told me that they will be able to save my tooth; I told her it’s easier for me to have it taken out.


judicurry October 26, 2010 at 9:26 am

Hi Marcia, I am so sorry that all your benefits were lost when you got sick. I know that I could not afford the COBRA that I was offered, and it didn’t include dental anyway. Once, when I was a student at UCLA, I went to the USC School of Dentistry for some help. They also did work on people that could not afford the dental costs – and that was way back in 1964! – but I had such a bad experience that I would never go back. (The “student dentist” drilled my tongue instead my tooth.!) I know that your luck will be better – organizations are too concerned now with being sued – and I wish you the best. Keep smiling! Save that tooth if you can! Good luck,


Currie Rose February 28, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hi. WOW!! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I agree very much that all the money pooled for candy could be taken and given to those who really need some dental care. I too used to feel sorry for those with gaps in their mouths… but I now have one as well…. and I am unable to afford health care… it’s a looooong story… I really hear you on sending money overseas too… I mean, I agree with it and I fully believe there is enough for every single person in this world… but what about the people right here?? Yes, we are lucky to have the rights we do in this country… but we deserve help too…


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