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Friday, November 25, 2011
What Has Changed:
Employers, and employees alike are under siege. Housing costs have plummeted. Fuel and food prices are rising rapidly. People who are jobless or hurting are not able to buy more than the basics causing local businesses to struggle. Due to the poor economy, employers are looking for ways to reduce costs. They are dropping coverage and buying cheaper dental plans. Insurance companies are front loading their premiums now to cover future costs (known and unknown) from healthcare reform, and other acts of legislation.
Patients with falling or no wages are forced to pay more out of pocket for dental care, or change to network plans. Patients are making decisions based on whether they have “insurance coverage”, rather than need. Ultimately many needed procedures are not completed.
Small problems become large problems including pain, swelling, infection, and possible loss of teeth. These problems are more expensive, and time consuming to treat. The treatment options may be too expensive at this point and additional tooth loss is not uncommon.
What I Am Seeing:
More patients call with emergency situations. Stress is causing people to clench and grind their teeth more which leads to many problems. Many patients are coming in with multiple problems and limited finances. I feel for these people and I always try to find a way to meet their needs.
The Net Effect:
Unfortunately, more people are opting for extractions and, temporary fixes. We are taking good care of our patients, while we are holding the line on fees and in many cases lowering them to make care more affordable. I am extremely creative finding solutions for patients that fit in their budget.
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