Monday, December 21, 2009

Teeth and the Medicaid System

"When was the last time you saw a dentist?" I asked Riley last night.

He did not remember.

I asked because Nate had his 6-month check last week and it reminded me that I'd not thought of that for Riley. Riley seems to be okay tooth-wise. They look good, he doesn't have bad breath, but still and all it's not good to go years between dental checkups. Although many students do.

The questions was interesting in its' timeliness. About 2 hours later he broke one side loose on his retainer. It's a permanent retainer that is bonded to the back of his lower front teeth.

And he turned 19 today, so his Medicaid runs out.

A couple of friends at church (that's where we were when it happened) suggested a dentist in Lancaster. Apparently he does lots of Medicaid work. I called there this morning and got a VERY UNHELPFUL person with VERY POOR GRAMMAR.

I explained his situation and mentioned that this dentist had been the one to do the retainer oh so many years ago.

"Nope, he's not our patient," she said. "He ain't in the computer." (at this I gritted MY teeth and took a breath)

"Well at any rate, is there any way you can squeeze him in today to either fix the retainer or pull it the rest of the way off?" I asked.

"No," she said. "We don't got no more appointments before the first of the year."

Now here, gentle reader, picture me using a tiny bit of my training in pranayama...breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out... and pulling on my knowledge of ahimsa (non violence)

"Hmmm...," I said. "Do you have any suggestions for me with this type of EMERGENCY?"

"No," she said.

Well, fortunately I am a woman with a network. I called our family dentist in Charlotte, who referred me to a dentist/orthodontist in Pineville. They do a lot of Medicaid work and were not at all concerned about navigating the system for me. I took him there at 11.

I sat in the dentist office with Riley for a while folding cranes, trying not to be sick about how much it could cost. The receptionist verified that he still has coverage through December. And they could bond the retainer back on. But that wasn't covered. Could I pay the $72? Yes. And I made an appointment for him to have a checkup on December 29. Now we have to get the paperwork done so he can continue with Medicaid after the month runs out.

I've baked his birthday cake (yellow, with cream cheese frosting. Yuck. He's getting plenty of grief about this boring combination), and tonight we'll order Chinese (his favorite). Right now there are LOTS of noises coming down the stairs. I have Nate, Taylor, Riley, Mitchell and Ryan up there. It's fun listening to them.

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