Chris J. Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D., wrote the following comments for the October 7 Rocky Mountain News:
While 770,000 Coloradans are without health insurance, twice that number of citizens do not have dental insurance and, therefore, lack access for preventive and restorative services. They must wait until their dental problem becomes a medical emergency before they are likely to get service. …
Therefore, it is my hope that Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform takes seriously the need to include dental care as part of an overall strategy in fixing our health-care system in Colorado.
Wiant’s assertion is false. It is simply not true that people who lack dental insurance therefore “lack access for preventive and restorative services.” They have all kinds of access. Since Chris J. Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D., is apparently ignorant of this fact, I’ll describe how people may access dental care.
Step One: Locate a phone book.
Step Two: Look up “dentist” in the phone book. It’s under “D.”
Step Three: Using a telephone, call a dentist in the phone book.
Step Four: Make an appointment to see the dentist.
Step Five: Go to see the dentist at the appointed time.
Step Six: Pay the bill.
As an alternative to the first two steps, look on-line — I found 2,080 dentists listed through DexKnows — or ask friends for a referral (which is what my wife and I did).
My wife and I do not have dental insurance. Indeed, we have never used our high-deductible insurance to cover any medical cost. We pay all of our medical and dental costs out of pocket (or out of our Health Savings Account, which is an extension of our “pocket”). And we like it that way.
My wife and I have both been very proactive in seeking out (and purchasing) “preventive and restorative” dental services. For example, just within the last few weeks, I had my first cavity filled (which was tiny because I went in as soon as I noticed it), and my wife had a filling replaced. Months ago I had a cracked molar repaired. We both get regular check-ups and cleanings.
Our dentist does an outstanding job. He is worth every cent that we’ve ever paid him — and much, much more. We get a spectacular value for our money with him, and I am proud to pay him for the services that he renders. Now that’s “access.”
We don’t need Chris J. Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D., to force us to purchase dental insurance that we neither want nor need. And that’s really what he’s saying here. It is now common knowledge that the 208 Commission has endorsed an “individual mandate” for Colorado, meaning that the Commission wants to force people to buy “insurance” that’s approved by politicians and bureaucrats (as opposed to, say, removing the political impediments that make insurance too expensive for some people to purchase).
But Wiant is concerned with the fraction of people lacking dental insurance who have trouble with Step Six. But they don’t need “insurance” (i.e., government-managed, pre-paid care that others are forced to fund) in order to have “access.” Those without funds to pay for dental services can and should set up payment plans or turn to voluntary charity.
Wiant’s article is indicative of what we can look for if the political takeover of medicine advances. Special interests will continually lobby to have their favored services included in the politically-enforced mix. As people “access” more of the “free” (or nearly free) services, the result will be price controls and rationing. Real “access” will be reduced.
By the way, “Chris J. Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D., is president and CEO of the Caring for Colorado Foundation.” And what manner of group is that? According to its web page:
In November of 1999, Anthem Insurance, a for-profit company, purchased Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado, which had non-profit status. This sale yielded proceeds of $155 million. As mandated by Colorado state law, the profit from the sale was dedicated to benefit the health of the people of Colorado. Caring for Colorado Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(4), tax-exempt Foundation, was endowed to fulfill this responsibilty (sic).
Let us leave aside the absurdity of state laws stacked on federal tax codes micromanaging mergers. Chris J. Wiant, M.P.H., Ph.D., is, by advocating more political control of medicine, actively undermining ” the health of the people of Colorado.”