I had a root canal done today. First one ever. But that's not exactly what I'm writing about
. I need to vent a little about
what happened at my dentist's office yesterday.
Many of you know I lost my health & dental insurance on June 30. So in June I was trying to get a lot of things taken care of for obvious reasons. I had been having pain in one tooth, and in June my dentist replaced a crown, which cost me $350 and that's WITH insurance. I'm also pretty much unemployed, and to say money is getting tight is an understatement.
I was really angry that the crown did NOT fix the problem with the tooth, and last week tried to appeal to the insurance company that the work on the tooth had been started while I still had coverage, but what the dentist did didn't fix the problem. Of course, appeal was denied. Dentist said I probably needed a root canal, and he'd have to drill through the new crown - which to him was no big deal, but hey, folks, I just paid money for what was likely an unnecessary procedure. But I didn't want to get too angry with someone who was going to be drilling in my mouth, you know? So last week I asked the secretary to speak with the dentist to see if he'd do the root canal for the same price that would have been the insurance company's allowance. I thought that was straightened out, as I told her I didn't want to come in to see him until I knew what the fee was going to be. I had already called about
a dozen dentists in the area, and root canals were $800-900, and they all wanted their money at the time of the service. So if my dentist was going to charge me the same amount, I would have gone to someone else.
So I had an appointment set for yesterday, which I thought was to do the root canal. I even took a percocet before going in, figuring it would help with the pain of sitting in the chair for so long.
Well, I'm lying back in the dentist chair, and he taps around to be sure it's the tooth I said it was and sure enough, it's the one with the new crown. But then he starts talking money to me. Right there with his assistant standing over me on one side, and him on the other. His office also just has petitions and is very
open in the center, so everyone could hear the conversation.
He kept prodding me for how I was going to get the money. I was trying to negotiate the price with him. He was saying he didn't want to finance anything, wanted it all up front, although he after some back and forth agreed to do it for $600. (the insurance allowance was $543 - I checked). He tells me there's this "Care Connect" program which basically is a credit card you apply for to cover medical expenses. Well, my credit is in the tank, which breaks my heart, but that's the reality as I had to stop paying my credit cards over a year ago. It was that or health insurance and heat. All my life I've paid my bills, until now. So I knew I wouldn't be eligible. He kept pushing me that he needed his money. I was fighting tears, still lying back in that dentist chair. If I had the resources I would have gotten up and called him a few choice names and left. But I knew I didn't have the resources.
I finally got him to agree to take half today (he told me yesterday he had no intention of doing the root canal at that appointment, but only wanted to check the tooth and see about
payment arrangements - nice of them to tell me), and told him I would try the Care Connect phone number when I got home. They wanted me to do it with his receptionist right out in an
open reception area. I said no, I'd do it at home. Then he asks how else would I get the money. So I said I would ask my cousin. And I agreed to get him the rest of the money in a month or so, but I know full well that may not be possible. At that point, I didn't care. I needed the work done on the tooth, I didn't want him angry when he was drilling in my mouth, but I felt mortified. Humiliated. Degraded. I'm not sure I've ever felt it that badly before. Maybe because I feel so helpless with it all. And lying in that dentist chair having the discussion just reinforce my feeling of helplessness. But I really wanted to scream at him. At one point, fighting tears, I asked him point blank if he had any compassion. And he said he did, but then went back to the payment issue and how payment plans don't tend to work out well. Yes, this one may not work out well. That breaks my heart, too, because I've always maintained my integrity and I feel I'm even losing that. Desperation is a painful motivator of behavior.
I know many of you are struggling with finances, too, and guess I needed to share this. There's nothing to fix about
it. I had the root canal today. He got his $300. I have to go back in 2 weeks for the permanent filling. But I never said I'd give him more money in 2 weeks. After that, well, I'll pay what I can when I can. I have no intention of ever going back to him.
Sorry this went on so long, but I needed to get it out of my system.
Thanks to all of you who read this far!