September 6, 2010

Goodbye Dentist

My husband has been seeing the same dental team since he was in the second grade. I have been seeing the same dental team since my husband and I were married. The same dental team has watched my husband grow up, watched my teenager grow up, saw me when I was pregnant with both Fiona and Kinsley, and have watched Fiona and Kinsley grow to be the ages of six and four. My husband went to elementary school with the new partner of this dental team. That’s a long time and a lot of history.

This week Fiona, Kinsley and I had our regular six month checkups to include x-rays and cleanings. The dental hygienists are always nice, very professional, family oriented and kid friendly. I can’t say enough good things about the lead dentist or my husband’s friend, the newer partner of this dental team. We love them all and I was very sad that I had to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye was a bit unconventional for me because I didn’t actually get to speak to any of the professionals behind the scenes. My biggest beef, the icing on the cake, and the last straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the very HORRIBLE and UNPROFESSIONAL team BEHIND THE DESK in the FRONT of the building.

“We Care” – Uh, NO. I don’t think you do care.

If you cared then you would take the time to pick up the phone and find out why after all these years we would sign a release form and transfer to another dental office. If you cared at all about your patients you would ask them to fill out a customer comment form instead of assuming that everything is hunky dory up in the front.

For starters when we arrived I double checked with the receptionist to make sure that my eighteen year old had been taken off our account. I felt the need to ask about this specifically because previously this year we had been charged a $50.00 no-show fee because my teenager was a no-call no-show to her own dental appointment. After going over the circumstances surrounding that unpleasant scenario they had agreed to drop the $50.00 no-show fee only to turn around and charge us for it anyway. Now do you see why I had to double check and make sure they did indeed take our daughter off our account?

She is not supposed to be on our account because she has dropped out of school and if you are not a full time student you don’t always get to stay on your parent’s insurance depending on which plan your parents are subscribed to.

In the process of trying to verify and confirm that our daughter had been dropped the receptionist proceeds to tell me that they will not be able to see her since she is no longer on our account and because of her age. I told the receptionist that is not true. If my eighteen year old wants to set up an appointment on her own she can do that and pay cash or provide her own dental insurance plan. The receptionist begins to tell me that it’s not so because she at one point in her life was a ward of the state yadda, yadda, yadda. Um, WHO CARES if you were a ward of the state? It’s none of your business why our daughter had to come off our dental insurance plan and on top of that YOU my dear have NO CLUE what you are talking about!?

At that point I had a feeling it was going to be downhill the rest of the appointment.

So we go about our cleanings, x-rays and follow-up appointments. Fiona passes her cleaning with flying colors: No Cavities. Kinsley does amazing with her x-rays and cleaning but unfortunately she has two teeth with cavities. On top of all of that I have two teeth with cavities too. Am I bummed about it? Of course I am! But it’s not a problem because we will try and do better and in the meantime they are going to help us get all of this corrected.

At the front desk we get our appointments set up. They want Kinsley to come in on May 19. They want me to come in on July 23. Then they want me to come back on August 17 to get the rest of my work done. Oh and our next cleaning is set up for October 2. I’m not too totally sure making Kinsley, my four year old, wait until the middle of next month is right. Thirty days out is not too terribly long of a wait, right? But with my appointments they want me to wait 3 months just to get one side of my mouth corrected and then I have to wait 1 more month to get the other side corrected. It’s all 4 months out and it’s only April people! Does that sound right to you? It certainly doesn’t sound right to me at all.

In the process of making these appointments I’m presented with these “contracts” that state what my “estimated” balance will be when we come in for these appointments. Excuse me but I have been going to that office for years and for years they have filed with our dental insurance and billed us for our portion. I get my portion in the mail, write a check, and pop it back in the mail. I’m not signing that! Come to find out they can’t really make my appointments if I don’t sign the paperwork acknowledging that I understand what my estimated portion will be at the time of service.

At this point I am LIVID.

What if the “estimated” portion is not correct and I wind up paying too much? I’m told that if that happens I will have to wait for a bit until they are able to cut me a check. WHAT!? What do you mean you want me to promise to pay this “estimated” portion 1, 3, and 4 months out? I have dental insurance that will cover their part, you bill me, and then I pay my portion. Then I asked them what do they do when people forget to bring their checkbook OR don’t have a credit card OR ATM card at which point the gal pointed to a financial aid form that they make people fill out. Then she proceeds to tell me that because of a few bad apples that could not pay their dental bills the rest of us have to suffer these odd practices.

On the way home I popped my head into the closest dental office by my house. I ask the receptionist what their office policy is as far as people that have dental insurance and she says they file with the dental insurance company who pays their portion and then they would bill me for my portion. I don’t have to pay my “estimated” anything on the day of my appointment AND on top of that payment is not expected AT ALL on the day of my appointment. In addition to all of this the gal took a look at the so-called “contracts” that I signed and couldn’t understand why they were opting to charge me $32.00 for sedation and/or nitrous oxide. The amount of work they were wanting to do on my 4 year old was questionable AND they could not understand why I was having to wait three months to get one side of my mouth corrected and then have to turn around four months out to get the other side corrected.

Immediately I returned to our dental office to sign the release forms so that I could get all of our dental records transferred to the new location. In the process of signing those papers that gal creeps from behind her corner in the front of the building to ask me why we were leaving. I described as much as I could as to why I was not happy with them. She tried to convince me that their office policy was exactly the same as the office policy of my doctor visits. Seriously, I don’t think so. When I go to see my doctor I know that I am supposed to pay $15.00 every single time I visit. If I see a specialist it’s $25.00. There are no hidden fees and I’m never asked to sign a contract promising to pay an “estimated” portion of the next doctor visit. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Doctors offices don’t run the same way as Dental Offices. I then explained to her it wasn’t as if I was having $32,000.00 worth of dental work done! On top of all of that I can get my 401 K statements faster than I can get in to get my mouth corrected! How is any of that OK?

They had Kinsley’s Sealant x1 at $20.00, Resins x2 at $140.00, and Sedation/Nitrous Oxide x1 at $32.00 which by the way, the new doctor’s office couldn’t figure out why they were opting for the sealant OR the sedation. (That’s the other thing that ticked me off. Is that common practice to use sedation on a 4 year old?) Then the little contract stated that the “Investment for Dental Treatment” would be $192.00 minus the “Less Estimated Benefit” would be $81.00 which would equal out to be the “Estimated Patient Balance” to be $111.00.

They had my Resins x4 at $328.00 with a “Less Estimated Benefit” at $250.20 and the “Estimated Patient Balance” at that point would be $77.80 – Uh Hello!? But if I wanted to I could right you a check for the entire amount the day of but as it stands I have DENTAL INSURANCE that will pay for their portion and then you can actually bill me for the CORRECT AMOUNT of my portion that is supposed to come due instead of throwing around all of these ESTIMATED AMOUNTS.

Since when do dental offices work from ESTIMATED DOLLAR AMOUNTS???

What a LOAD OF POOP!!!

I was so frustrated with the gal from the FRONT that I finally told her if she needed a reason why we are leaving to just put that their office is no longer a good fit for our family. As far as their postcard mantra “We Care” goes … I really don’t think that they do care. If they cared about what was going on with their patients they would make it their business to know and understand what was going on with the poor customer service at the front desk. If you could have heard how these women were speaking to me back when I tried to explain my daughter’s no-show situation, why she was being dropped from our plan, and all the crapola that went into forcing me to sign a “contract” on estimated prices four months out!?

Can you imagine what people without Dental Insurance go through?

As it stands right now the new dental office is waiting for the old dental office to mail them our dental records. We’ll see how long all of that will take. In the meantime I have all of our paperwork filled out and ready to go. As soon as they get our records in the mail they will call me to set up our appointments. Oh and I will not have to wait until July and August to get my mouth fixed. Nice, huh?

April 2010

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