Wednesday, September 23, 2009


About three months ago, I learned that I would need to have all of my teeth pulled and then join the world of denture wearers. It's not the best news a person wants to hear, but I could deal with it. So, I had to go to Olympia (approximately 70 miles northeast) to see a denturist and an oral surgeon.

I've been to the denturist a total of three times and the oral surgeon once. That's 4 trips to Olympia over a 3 month period. My dentures are now ready for pickup. There was one last step for me to complete -- I needed to schedule the oral surgery.

That's when the bombshell was dropped. As I'm talking via phone with the scheduler, she asks me in an offhanded manner, "When you were here last, did they tell you that you need to have a $350 check for us on the day of the surgery?" In a word, no. No one mentioned anything of the kind!

I asked what the $350 was for. She explained that it had something to do with the procedure to remove the excess tissue from having all the teeth pulled. I asked if this procedure was mandatory and she said it was. She also told me that Medicaid discontinued paying for this procedure as of July 1, no doubt because of the state's budgetary crisis.

I think you can guess my dilemma. As a poor person, I'm on Medicaid. Because I'm poor, I don't have $350 just sitting around and it's a definite budget breaker in our household. If I had that kind of money, I probably wouldn't qualify for Medicaid anyway. So, I didn't schedule the surgery, but I do have a brand new pair of dentures!

Here's the part that has me completely perplexed. Upon learning I would need dentures and oral surgery, the denturist took the lead in filling out the authorization request and it took nearly 3 months for the state to give a thumbs up. No one from the state ever contacted me to see if I had $350 sitting around to pay for the one procedure not covered. So, they made their decision to pay the denturist without knowing if the patient -- me -- could afford the extra cost! This may mean paying the denturist thousands of dollars to make something I can't use at this point.

Talk about government waste!


  1. How about starting a fund raising drive? You could set up a free Paypal account, or use a similar service, to solicit donations on this blog for your surgery. You post quite frequently, you got a good amount of readership, and you don't have advertisements on your blog, but if 350 people each donated just one single dollar, or if 35 people each donated ten bucks, or 100 people donated $3.50, you'd have your money. It's something to consider at least, especially if you have no other way to come up with the money. It is for a good cause after all, and I'm sure you have plenty of fans here that would want to help you out, especially if they can afford it.

  2. Cym,
    While I greatly appreciate the sincerity of your suggestion, it is simply not something I would do. Heck, if one reader sent me an email offering to pay the whole thing, I would respectfully decline.

    It's my problem and I'm going to need to figure out a way to deal with it. My current thinking is that I'm going to lodge an appeal with Medicaid.

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  5. OK suit yourself, but I don't see how using a service funded entirely by taxpayers, many of which are not in agreement to how their money is being spent, and who are forced to pay or else go to jail, is any better than soliciting donations independently from people who actually know and are in complete agreement of and willingly consent to what their money would be funding.

    I do respect your wishes to keep this blog entirely non-profit, as your gift to the world, expecting nothing in return. That's fine, but I guess I just don't get why government charity is more preferable to you than individual charity.

  6. From my perspective, Medicaid is not necessarily "charity". I'm disabled, through no apparent fault of my own -- I was born that way. Society has a responsibility to provide basic sustenance to those who can't provide it for themselves.

    I mean, we don't kill children with Down's Syndrome or full-blown autism as soon as it is realized they will never contribute to the economic well-being of a nation. Every life has a purpose. It's just that some of these lives need help by definition.

    Despite the fact I am highly intelligent, I'm autistic and beyond this virtual medium I don't do well in the outside world. I am not expecting society to pay for my frivolities and entertainment. I'm talking about a needed medical procedure, not skydiving lessons or a vial of crack.

  7. Trey, I don't consider charity a bad thing at all, and I'm not arguing against your right to Medicaid or any other government assistance programs, just that if I were in a situation where I needed help, I'd rather get charity from people who freely choose to give it, rather than by people who are forced to or else, and don't understand why you seem to be opposed to the latter, or even to receiving both.

    And also since when does your disability have anything to do with your dental problems? Tooth decay and gum disease is a completely preventable condition. I'm sorry but you don't lose all your teeth at your age, unless you haven't been taking care of them. It is impossible to get a cavity if you regularly brush your teeth and floss, and avoid a diet that is high in sugary or acidic foods or drinks, its totally lifestyle related.

  8. You mentioned in your first response that if a reader emailed you, offering to give you a donation of $350, with no strings attached and no obligation to pay back, that you would refuse it. Why?

    Why is it preferable in your mind to receive financial assistance from the government, but not from an individual philanthropist?

    I'm assuming that you are for universal health care, or at least that you feel that those who are disabled or retired, should have access to tax payer subsidized health care, with no out of pocket expenses of your own to pay for your health care?

    I honestly am not sure how I feel about that at this time, don't know enough about it to say, but on the subject of wasteful spending, as you mention at the bottom of this post, isn't it wasteful to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars per person treating preventable medical problems, problems that were entirely caused by the persons lifestyle. And I'm not specifically targeting you here, but just talking in general for everyone that has a health problem that is directly caused by their poor lifestyle choices. Shouldn't a person have to take some personal responsibility for their own health, and have to pay something for their own mistakes, if not money, perhaps some form of community service?

    Yeah in all honesty I think that in order for people to get government assistance, be it subsidized housing or food stamps or whatever, I'm all for a person having to perform some form of useful community service, something that benefits the person and society, that instead of getting free government aid, a person has to give something back for it, something that actually benefits society as a whole. So that nothings wasted, and everything is earned.

  9. And also since when does your disability have anything to do with your dental problems? Tooth decay and gum disease is a completely preventable condition.

    My disability has meant that I haven't been able to earn enough money to pay for preventive care. Before my app for disability was approved, I went for nearly 10 years without seeing a dentist. In this time, small cavities -- which could have been easily repaired -- mushroomed into major cavities. I was involved in a bike accident which caused me to chip a tooth and this jagged tooth has gotten much worse since.

    In addition, some of it has to do with genetics. My paternal grandfather was an alcoholic and ate a crummy diet, yet he died with all his natural teeth and not one cavity. My brother, who lives on junk food, has never had a cavity either.

    My late mother, on the other hand, brushed and flossed religiously. She was very careful about what she ate and was in to whole foods before it became fashionable. Yet, she seemed to be getting several cavities filled every year.

    So, while I do agree with you that lifestyle choices do play a role, there are many other variables as well.

  10. Why is it preferable in your mind to receive financial assistance from the government, but not from an individual philanthropist?

    I'm sure it's bound up in the fact of what my maternal grandparents shared with me about the depression.

    Simply put, I don't like asking for help. Heck, despite my various hardships, I didn't even apply for disability for decades because I wanted to pay my own way. I tried so hard to be a worker in our society, but no matter how hard I tried, I just don't fit in.

    It was hard for me to obtain jobs and even harder to keep them. Because of my OCD, I was a tireless worker and always willing to lends a helping hand. Unfortunately, I have problems with interpersonal communications and relationships which meant that unwittingly I kept getting myself into hot water with my bosses and, sometimes, with coworkers.

    In the mainstream world, the longest job I ever held was for 2.5 years and it was very rocky from the start. The rest of my various positions didn't last that long.

    I'm assuming that you are for universal health care...

    Most definitely!!! I already have something close to it through Medicaid. I think everyone else in the country should be entitled to the same benefits.

    Shouldn't a person have to take some personal responsibility for their own health...

    We do!! Because of all my broken teeth and cavities, I eat a very limited diet of mainly soft foods. This greatly impacts my health because there are a lot of healthful foods that I can't eat.

    A person who chooses not to wear a helmet and then suffers brain damage from a motorcycle accident pays a steep price too. Such an individual loses autonomy, often the ability to work and enjoy life, and maybe even the possibility for intimate relationships.

    When people suffer from medical and psychological infirmities they accept responsibility by leading greatly diminished lives.

  11. Every single thing I write is based on my own experience, an experience that obviously is often not shared by others, but in my experience prevention has been mostly free. I've never had a cavity ever in my life. I used go to the dentist twice a year up until my late teens, but as of today I haven't been to the dentist in over 15 years. And not because of lack of money, I just chose not to, I felt I was taken care of my teeth just fine.

    Besides regularly brushing my teeth, flossing, gargling with peroxide and applying baking soda pastes to my teeth, I also invested in a set of dental picks, probes, mirrors and plaque and tartar scrapers, and with the aid of a dentistry book Where there is no Dentist, I've been using this book as my guide to maintain my own dental health myself. I regularly examine my gums and teeth using a magnifying mirror, and have not identified any problems. I attribute this entirely to diet and my own preventive maintenance, the tools cost about ten bucks.

    Another part of the reason why I think I probably haven't ever had a cavity is because I've never really had much of sweet tooth. I don't eat candy or drink soda, rarely have pastries or ice creme, and never add refined sugar to anything. And I know its not genetic either because plenty of my relatives have had cavities, and other health problems, but with only a couple exceptions, they all went to the dentist and had their teeth professionally cleaned and inspected every year of their life, and they still got cavities because it was their diets and not regularly cleaning their teeth that was responsible.

    I have an aunt who lost all her teeth and received her first set of dentures when she was relatively young, I think she was in her early 40's at the time. And she was always drinking soda, snacking on donuts, and other crappy food, and not brushing her teeth. Sure she'd maybe brush her teeth in the morning and before going to bed, but she was always snacking throughout the day, drinking soda, and not brushing her teeth after every meal! And she had top quality medical care too, money was no problem, was always going to the doctor and dentist, but it didn't do her a bit of good! She's got a whole bunch of health problems, even had her gall bladder removed like you, but every single one of her problems is caused by her lifestyle. I used to work with her, and I've seen the cause and effect with my own eyes!

  12. I rarely eat candy and I've never consumed soda in my life -- not due to health concerns, but I can't handle the fizz. I'm no saint though. I love regular and frozen yogurt. I also love muffins and scones.

    Still, my favorite snack is a sesame bagel drenched in olive oil. But I eat a lot of peanut butter -- Jif because I'm one "choosy mother".

  13. "Simply put, I don't like asking for help."

    Ok, understood. I don't much like asking for help either, but I sure as hell wouldn't refuse a free gift of $350 right about now if I were offered, that's for sure!

    "A person who chooses not to wear a helmet and then suffers brain damage from a motorcycle accident pays a steep price too..."

    "...When people suffer from medical and psychological infirmities they accept responsibility by leading greatly diminished lives."

    I still like my community service idea though...but I dislike politics and politicians, and am quite content living on the fringes of society, taking care of myself, and being as self sufficient and self reliant as possible, so this is all just talk, but enjoyable talk nonetheless.

    I'm a contrarian, that's my style. My comments are not meant to attack or insult you personally, but rather to stimulate and provoke the questioning and examination of ideas, to arrive at a clearer understanding of all points involved.

  14. This is the link I should have used before. You can read this book for free online: Where there is no Dentist (free version)

    It's very basic, not without its flaws, but I found it be quite helpful nonetheless, especially chapter 8 all about how to scale your teeth. I don't think I'd attempt doing anything more advanced (like surgery) myself. My hand's a bit too shaky for that, but it's good to know how to give yourself a professional type of cleaning yourself.

  15. I've taken no offense at your comments. In fact, you've offered much food for thought! In my book, healthy and respectful dialog is a good thing. : )


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