Tuesday, September 8

My Personal Medicaid Statistics

Population of the city in which I live: 110,000

Number of hits Google provides when searching for "Orthodontists in [my city and state]: 118

Number of orthodontists in my city who take Medicaid: Zero

Number of miles I drove today (round-trip) to take my son to an orthodontist who takes Medicaid: 165.08

Number of minutes I was early for the appointment: four

Number of minutes we waited to see the orthodontist: fifty

Number of minutes the orthodontist spent with my son: two and a half

Amount Medicaid will cover for his "non-severe" orthodontic needs: zero

Cost of a tank of gas today when I got back: Just under $36.00

Number of times on the way home I swore under my breath: lost count

Number of times I thanked God I was 'unemployed' and not taking paid time off of work (ha)** to make this stupid trip: three

**Percentage of US workers who have NO paid sick leave: 48

Estimated cost of braces (which he'll likely need down the road) as private payee: $5000

Amount I am allowed to have in the bank, ever, before I lose food stamp benefits for me and my three kids: $2000

Good News! As a private payee, maybe I can get one of the 118 orthodontic practices in my hometown to fix my kid's teeth, and be grateful for the savings on gasoline!

Seriously, I KNOW my situation is not a dire as many parents'. I feel for those parents WITH insurance whose child's severe illness (not just crooked teeth) STILL bankrupts the family. I sincerely feel for medical specialists who can't pay the light bills on what Medicaid reimburses them.

I feel more for parents who can't afford to TAKE their child to a doctor who will take public insurance.


ps. still waiting to hear if my laptop is or can be repaired. I'm really grateful for all the advice my readers have given me. Please don't ask me to buy another one, buy a Mac, buy ANYTHING. Not today. Not today.

Update: They called from the shop ...pretty good guy. Says the machine itself is fine but totally corrupted so he's reinstalling windows. What I "lose" is mostly replaceable. He offered to back up whatever I wanted but I said screw it. Google backs up every image posted to the blog (you old skool Blogger types know that, right?), and the old skool software I like (especially movie maker 2.6) is still available for download.


  1. Anonymous6:20 PM

    When Barney Frank asked that idiot at the town hall meeting "What planet do you live on?", it was a better response than folks gave him credit for. The bullshit you went through is a shared nightmare that hundreds of thousands of people go through every day. Everybody I know and everybody you know has a horror story. Now what I want to know is on what planet these lunatic teabaggers live on where they think this health care system the United States is stuck with is good? On what planet do they live on where people are supposed to feel sorry for insurance companies? On what planet do they live on where nobody ever gets sick? Beam me up, Scotty, there isn't any intelligent life down here.

  2. Sorry about your ordeal. I remember going through the braces ordeal. Lots of visits back then. Had them put on, taken off, put on again. Good reason...teeth too damn strong, but damn not fun. Add to it the wait and fighting to get it paid for...awful. Sadly, even if the health care bill has a strong public option--not fucking likely--dental and vision are not covered. Of course.

  3. Good grief. I didn't know about that bank account requirement. That's crazy.

  4. I'm currently waiting for a referral to a Medi-Cal orthodontist for my daughter who (luckily? unluckily?) qualifies for her severe overbite. She'll be switching to SCHIP at the end of October, though, so hoping we can stick with whoever it is.

    I live in the LA area so there should be someone closer than yours, but I'm so sorry for your ordeal!

    I'm not surprised but am appalled that nothing that passes will cover dental, especially after we were told 10 years ago that my husband's gum disease was "life-threatening" because gum disease can lead to heart attack. But your teeth are not part of your body, right?

  5. The only reason Medicaid provides dentistry service in DC is because a child died from an untreated abscessed tooth the family didn't have the money to fix. How terrible it is that it takes tragedies like this to change policy.

  6. Anonymous5:57 PM

    What kills me is a story a friend in West Virginia told me:

    Doctors,dentists and nurses in a certain area there offer a free clinic each year for people who can't afford health care...and in WV, that's a lot of people. One woman brought in a boy who had a tooth abcess; he'd had it for a long time, but his family had only enough money to see a dentist for a more painful problem (at the time) with another child, so by the time the boy was taken to the free clinic, infection from the abcess had already spread to his brain. He was rushed to a hospital, went through a number of expensive surgeries, but died.

    It was something that could have been easily--and infinitely more cheaply--fixed if it had been caught early. He was taken to a county hospital....the taxpayers were left with a huge bill to pay and the family lost their son.

    Heartbreaking. And a perfect example of the fiscal insanity of thinking that only people who can pay should get health care.

  7. Anonymous6:06 PM

    My granddaughter came to live with me last year. She had been receiving dental care at a county clinic that accepts MediCal (California's Medicaid). There are no private dentists in the county that accept MediCal.

    Two fillings put in by the clinic's dentists fell out. Unfortunately, she couldn't get an appointment to have them refilled. By the time I was able to get to her my dentist, it was too late to save one tooth and the other required a root canal and cap. (She had previously lost another tooth because it became abscessed.)

    I recall reading that the U.S. Army had to hire more dentists because the new recruits they were getting had such rotten teeth they were deemed "undeployable." We spend a lot of time talking about reforming medical care -- we really need to also be talking about dental care. You can't be healthy if you have rotten teeth -- in fact, teeth problems lead to heart problems.

  8. Anonymous9:40 PM

    Here's an idea: get a job rather than mooching off the people.

    Also, the reason medical professionals don't take Medicaid is because the reimbursement rates are below their cost of service. You think this bodes well for expanding government as a payor? Not likely, but people like you who aren't used to actually paying for things don't have a clue about economics.

  9. Where we used to live, we had ONE orthodontist who would take MediCal, but (A) he would only pull teeth, and (B) you needed to have ALL your teeth pulled. If it was a single bad tooth, you were out of luck. How much you wanna bet his decisions were based on what MediCal reimbursed for various procedures?

    On top of all that, he was a crap oral surgeon.

  10. Anonymous11:19 PM

    Anyone wanna take a bet that anonymous from Franklin Ohio at 9:40 is retired, and therefore not looking for a job OR health insurance?

    Didn't think so.

  11. Anonymous1:24 PM


    Before you leave very judgemental comments about a professional you know little about, check you facts. An orthodontist is not an oral surgeon...and dentist and dental specialists like oral surgeons typically don't accept Medicaid becuase the reimbursement rate won't even come close to covering the overhead needed to provide treatment. If dental specialists accepted any medicaid patient that walked into their office, with the current reimbursement rates, they would be out of business within a few months. There are two sides to every story. Medial providers should try to understand the plight of the low-income, un-insured patients. But consumers should take little bit more interest in why medical providers have a hard time accepting Medciaid patients. It's not always about greed.


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