Yet Another Piece on How American Health "Care" is Awful in Those Public Entries

  • Sept. 13, 2022, 8:31 a.m.
  • |
  • Public

I went to the dentist two weeks ago, for the first time in over a year. What did the appointment include? Well, since my last dentist decided to only send over the records from 2014, claiming that that those were the latest records they had on me (which, bullshit; the last time I was seen by my last dentist was January 2021), they did X-rays and a cleaning. Since I was under the impression that I had dental coverage, I didn’t think too much about the bill.

So imagine my surprise when I got a bill for $358 from my new dentist in the mail yesterday.

Of course, I called my health insurance, GEHA, and asked why I was being billed for a simple cleaning. Well, GEHA doesn’t have any records on whether I’m covered for vision or dental, I have to go through a different company to ask for that.

Now, let me stop and explain something here: When I enrolled in GEHA last November, I knew that I needed to purchase separate plans for vision and dental. BUT. Because of the information on GEHA’s own website, I was under the impression that if I purchased the vision plan, dental would be included under that same plan. Putting aside the sheer, unadulterated, idiotic lunacy of needing to purchase a whole-ass other policy just to take basic care of one’s eyes and teeth, that is, in fact, the impression that GEHA’s website gave me, and so, that’s what I did. I added the vision policy with the “informed” belief that doing so would also add a dental plan, since the vision and dental plans were offered by the same company.

So I called the other company, through whom I have vision and believed I also had dental. They have no records of me being enrolled through either program (bullshit, I just had an eye exam in July that they covered!). When I asked why I wasn’t enrolled in dental, they said they didn’t know. When I asked if I could be enrolled, they said not only did I have to wait until November for the next open enrollment, but that the claim I had would be rejected anyway, since I’d incurred it before the policy would take effect.

All because I was under the impression, via false advertising, that the health insurance I already pay for (and sucks, but I digress) would cover the costs for which I believed I had already paid a whole other policy for.

I even asked a representative why GEHA took this tack, making people add on “optional” vision and dental (which absolutely should not be considered “optional”), and the answer, so genius, so earth-shaking, so profound, I simply must share it with the world:

“Well, it’s optional because most people don’t need dental or vision covered and don’t want to pay extra for it.”

“Most people” don’t need vision or dental insurance? “Most people”? “Don’t need dental covered”?

My dude, whose ass did you pull that line out of? Because I spoke to you for fifteen minutes, and trust me, that was enough time for me to tell you aren’t that good.

Because here’s the thing: Basic eye care, and basic tooth care, are part of overall health care. Experts, doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, have been saying this for decades. You need to take care of your eyes and your teeth, just as much as you need to take care of your heart, liver, and stomach. Everyone has heard this, and everyone agrees with this. There was an article on Aeon in 2017, written by Sarah Smarsh, about the shame of having poor teeth in the richest country in the world, even though her family’s bad teeth weren’t caused by drugs, but lack of access to basic dental care.

Let me counter the “most people don’t need dental” argument with this: YES, ALL PEOPLE NEED DENTAL! And all people know that we need dental and want it! We just don’t want to have to pay extra for basic care, like cleanings and the occasional filling! We want dental to be included with health care as an acknowledgment that healthy teeth are just as important as a healthy heart and healthy lungs! That’s where the disconnect is! No other so-called “first world country” makes people pay separately for basic dental care. No other country in the world forces people to buy private health insurance just to cover the most basic of care. No other “first world country” punishes people who can’t afford insurance with COBRA or the Healthcare Marketplace. No other “first world country” sees millions of people per year dying because simple medical conditions went untreated due to an inability to afford basic care. I’m not talking “someone with a heart condition was too stubborn to see a doctor”; I’m talking “one of my best friends is still paying off an ER bill from an abscessed tooth almost killing them, because they couldn’t afford insurance to get the antibiotics that would have treated it in the first place.” I’m talking “people with diabetes rationing insulin, because their insurance will only pay for so many vials in a year.” I’m talking “elderly people on Medicare rationing their meds, because they can’t afford both a whole month of meds and their other costs of living.” I’m talking “I’ve been having suspicious headaches for over a month, but I can’t see a doctor, because my insurance sucks and I will almost certainly be on the hook for thousands of dollars for whatever testing is ordered.”

I’m not the first person to say this, nor will I be the last, and I’m certainly far from the only. But it cannot be stated enough, just how cruel this system is, nor can it be stated enough that the cruelty is the point. American society is fundamentally cruel and self-serving, but the most eloquent and succinct example is our health care system.

I want to note something here. I am currently enrolled in a college class called “Stalin’s Russia,” at UMass Lowell. We are going to spend a whole semester studying Papa Joe and his effect on Russian history. But I happen to go into this class knowing that, for almost all of its existence including Stalin’s reign, the USSR had state-sponsored health care. Whether or not the care was any good is beside the point (and for the record, no, it wasn’t), but I just wanted to point this out. Joseph Stalin, one of the uncontested greatest monsters in human history, was still not as cruel as to make his subjects pay out of pocket for their health care, nor to make them purchase private insurance plans. Nazi Germany had state-sponsored health care (again, whether it was good or bad is beside the point). China, one of the most oppressive regimes in the modern world, has state-sponsored health care.

And if you’re asking what the point is, it is simply this: Three of history’s greatest modern monsters -Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong- were still not evil enough to implement private health insurance as a way of life. They’re all three in the afterlife, going, “Holy shit, dude, chill; you need people alive if you want to rule over them,” or they’re thinking, “Fuck, why didn’t I think of that?!”

And I get it, screaming into the void isn’t going to help anything. But what will? We’re coming out of a pandemic (an ongoing pandemic, but who cares, it’s not like anyone worth caring about could still die!) that’s killed over a million people, infects over 900 people per day still, with a significant number of the population still refusing to get vaccinated or even denying that COVID exists at all, and we still have not seen any reforms of any kind to the system. The cruelty is the point. Even if something could be done about it, nothing will, we all know that. So just let me scream into the void, because it’s the only thing saving what’s left of my sanity.

Park Row Fallout September 13, 2022

It is downright blasphemous to say this in Iowa where Des Moines is "a great hub of private insurance companies" but the American system really is built on corruption, greed, and bulls(hit). I'm lucky that, due to Glaucoma, my eye care is considered health coverage instead of Vision... but the idea that One Body needs a minimum of 3 different types of insurance... all given (often) by different companies that charge different premiums and fight against The Citizen for paying at all is... tedious and intentionally punitive. So much about "reform Health Care" comes down to "regulate or fix private insurance B.S." but because too many Americans are brainwashed into thinking "Reform Health Care means we'll have insane lines and less skilled doctors!" we can't even have a rational conversation about it. :(

lessoff September 13, 2022

teeth and vision are not "extra". stupid insurance.

if you figure out that you didnt have insurance, call the dentist office and see if they have some type of non insurance discount.

You must be logged in to comment. Please sign in or join Prosebox to leave a comment.