A Personal Story: Medicaid Doesn’t Cover It – Mary, Norwich

The following letter was published in The Valley News in March 2011, under the title “A Misconceived Economic System”:

To the Editor:

I am a Medicaid recipient and have never had better health care. However, dental needs are denigrated in the Medicaid system.  I was just forced (by profit/loss economy) to choose between having a tooth with a dead nerve “extracted” (market price $200) or getting the optimal (middle-class, insured) root-canal, with crown to cover it (market price $2,400).

Medicaid allows $495 per year for dental needs, and it doesn’t roll forward if it isn’t used. So I had no choice. If I’d had $2,400, I would have tried to find a car to replace my 14-year-old auto. I asked the upscale, very professional dentist, who on an emergency basis, had identified my condition, if he would do the worst-case option, the extraction. I would pay his price. He couldn’t fit me into his schedule. I found the Vermont State Dental clinic (and paid a co-pay of $3; the clinic got $88), and now have the second of two holes in my mouth.  No doubt there will be more to come.

Of all the choices my poverty requires of me, the most heinous is this acceptance of being a haggled-toothed old lady. And yes, I do complain “as if I were entitled.”  It’s not poor health care. It’s an entirely misconceived economic system that simply lets people on the “loss” side of the ledger drop away into the chasm of neglect. In the end, all economics is a social system, contrived to produce thriving citizens. It is very poorly conceived as a wealth-accumulation system, driven by competition.

My strong support is for a single-payer system, which is, in fact, the most efficient, lowest cost and most inclusive option.

Mary W. Fowler
Norwich, Vermont

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