A Personal Story: No Clemency for Uninsured – Naomi, Thetford

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Naomi lives in Thetford, Vermont. This is her story:

For almost 25 years our family had health insurance that included dental benefits. I had to have a tooth pulled a decade or so ago, after a botched root canal procedure; there is a visible gap, but fixing it was and is not an option: insurance didn’t cover such things and it was – and is – just too expensive.

Our children had good dental care while growing up, then, in college, our elder son put off visits to a dentist; he knew that, at the time, we were unemployed and uninsured and there was no money for what he thought was unnecessary care. After a few years, his teeth started to hurt (he never told Mom and Dad what was going on) and eventually he made an appointment. He had seven cavities; we had to find $2,000 to take care of what was at that point urgent. The dentist who had taken over the practice of our former (trusted, competent, kind) long-term dentist was and is completely inflexible and seemingly heartless about payment. No clemency of any kind for uninsured patients: pay up front is the rule. We now have health insurance, but there is no dental component. I’ve been told that I need fillings; my jaw hurts; but I’m just going to live with it.

Illustration by Dennis Pacheco.

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