How many of you check your dental invoices to make sure you (or your children) received everything you actually paid for? I am in the habit of checking all of my receipts and can tell you honestly that I usually find mistakes in almost every receipt.
This particular blog post is about a dentist who likely pads every bill and one way she tried to pad mine.
I have bonded front teeth which means that there only parts of my real front teeth remaining, and the rest is bonded and shaped to look natural. The bonding lasts 10-15 years and occasionally a piece cracks off and has to be repaired. The repair is usually one visit to the dentist and costs about $300, based on my own experiences.
The last time the bonding broke off , I went online and searched for a yearly dental plan. These plans offer discounts across the board for any dental services. They are relatively inexpensive and there are benefits above and beyond just bonding. I looked for a plan that gave me what I thought I would need for the year, at the lowest possible cost and had no waiting time. These plans will often provide discounted rates for your entire family, or anyone who is related and lives in your household at no additional cost. Remember it’s not insurance and it’s not a copayment situation, you pay to get all the listed services at a discounted price. Many of these plans also provide free checkups, free x-rays, and even free cleanings. You pay for the year, get your card(s) and list of dentists (check this out before you sign up, as you do want to make sure there are some in your actual location first!) and then you are free to call and set up your appointment with any of their listed dentists or specialists.
I should have known something was wrong when the dentist I chose took my credit card and charged my “approximate” visit costs to it before I even sat in the chair. I thought it was strange, but I was a new patient, and so I tried to put that aside. Two additional times before I was out of that chair they had to charge my card again for additional services. That’s right, if you don’t pay first, they don’t work on you! In the end, my teeth were cleaned, x-rays taken, and bonded tooth back to normal. Entire bill was less than the normal bonding fix alone at about $220.00.
My husband needed new dentures, and he went to them next. His experience wasn’t as good. The teeth that they provided him were – well, close to useless. They just didn’t fit. They were not really skilled in this area at all, and I have to say we wasted our money on getting them done there. They were certainly not willing to “make it right.” We had to go 60 miles away to a same day clinic and get him another set quickly. You just can’t really function at your best without teeth! We chalked it up to lessons learned.
I went back anyway for 6 month cleaning and check-up because: 1) I still had the plan in place, 2) the cost was going to be about $50.00 total based on this plans price sheet. When I went in, they told me they were charging my card for $110.00 and the “discussion” began. I said the plan says $50.00 – but they told me I owed $40.00 on my husband’s work (truth was he had a $40 credit) and mine would be about $70.00. I argued, and they charged me $70 and said they’d change it if after my work was done it wasn’t that high. They actually tried to charge me instead of crediting me for my husband’s overpayment, but they certainly were not going to deduct it from my bill that day.
When I left, I had totally forgotten about the payment amount they had charged (again in advance) to my card. When I got back to my office I checked the invoice and saw charges on there that were not accurate. One of the things they charged me for was “fluoride treatment”, which I know I didn’t have. I expected to be able to call, get it straightened out and have them fix the charge on my card to be correct. That was so “not happening”.
The office staff seemed to take a while to understand my problem. After my 4th call or so, they understood that I was aware of what a fluoride treatment was and I really didn’t have one, but they couldn’t actually say so. They kept saying things like “the doctor said you had one,” and “she is saying there was fluoride in the toothpaste they used.” I answered that one by telling them Crest has fluoride but that doesn’t make it fluoride treatment each time I brush with it. Finally the girl I spoke to said “I understand what you are saying , but I work here and this is what the doctor said to say”. There is a per patient minimum and that was the $70.00. I said you cannot add charges for things people did not get.
After at least a dozen phone calls later, where they (at the doctors direction) won’t fix the errors, I have to admit I pulled out the big guns. I said, if the doctor does not fix this issue today, I will be reporting her to the dental board. It is unethical to charge anyone for products or services they do not receive.
In about 15 minutes my call back indicated I had to go back to their office and they would be fixing my credit card charge. They gave me $35.00 of the credit on husbands’ account (they would not give me the entire $40.00) and adjusted my charge to just $15.00 (fixing the error) and told me never to come there again.
In the end, the bottom line, this dentist was unethical . So check your bills, think twice if they make you pay in advance, do not overpay, and if necessary actually write a letter of complaint to your local dental board.