Archive for October, 2012
After watching Marketplace’s Money Where Your Mouth Is on CBC the other day I was left with the same bitter aftertaste that all of you probably were. If you missed it you can watch is online at:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/10/18/f-marketplace-dentists-treatment-plan-variation.html
Even I, a dental professional am appalled with the way many dentists abuse the trust of patients. So how do you, the patient know what’s right? It’s like any big decision you make in your life, do your research and get a second or third opinion.
Keep in mind; dentists are not the only ones that are looking to make a buck off of the insurance companies. Car dealerships do it when they charge differing prices for the same work depending on if it will be billed to an insurance company. Even doctors are guilty of it, I have been to doctors who before writing a prescription will ask if I have insurance and prescribe me the less expensive alternative when I answer that I do not have any benefits.
This type of practice is not right, it is considered fraud and is one of the reasons that insurance premiums are so high (and why people like me cannot afford to be insured).
Besides being unethical, this type of billing is also illegal and punishable. My governing body, the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario, takes this matter very seriously. So when people call me and ask me if I will be willing to just take what their insurance covers or to use a different code that the insurance will recognize I am not lying when I say that it’s really not my choice and I simply can’t do that. You can rest assured that regardless of insurance status every patient is billed according to the work that was done for them and any special I am offering is the same for everyone who redeems it regardless of insurance status.
I have worked with many dentists, most of which are very honest and are really just trying to do their best with the understanding that we can’t please everyone. As guilty as many dentists are in this matter, often times there is a lot of pressure from patients to try to use up insurance coverage or to pay as little out of pocket as possible regardless of the method to make that happen. I think that it is not just up to the dentist to keep things honest, patients need to be aware of their coverage and not turn a blind eye when the billing is questionable.
I am a firm believer that you cannot make a good decision without all of your options laid out in front of you, and that regardless of insurance or income class it is not for me to judge what decisions you make. This is why I stand by the need for a comprehensive exam for every patient and to take the time to review findings and develop a tailored treatment plan that takes into account not only treatment needs but your financial restrictions as well.
I hope that this episode of marketplace didn’t deter you from seeking dental care. Remember, prevention is really the best medicine. Getting a referral from someone you trust is probably the best way to choose a dentist of dental hygienist.
The bottom line, you need to feel comfortable with your dental care providers and if you have a bad feeling about it then listen to your gut and find a new office.