How Would You Like to Pay A Lot Less at the Dentist?

I love to learn.  A big part of what I do is teaching business owners and employees about how to keep more money in his/her pockets. So when I find out something new in the employee benefits field, I like to share it.  When it is something that potentially can affect everyone, it’s even more relevant.  Doesn’t everyone want to know if they’re paying too much at the dentist?

I took my kids to the dentist last week.  Admittedly, this is something that my ex-wife typically has looked after in the past and rather grateful for it.  The timing of the kids’ dentist appointment happened to line up on my schedule, so I took them.

Those who know me, understand that I emphasize how important it is to scrutinize your dental bill and to ask questions if you’re uncertain about a certain charge. It’s not uncommon for someone to get charged an extra scaling unit on occasion.  I emphasize to check your watch when you sit in the hygienist’s chair and recheck it when you’re finished.

I prompted my three kids to check the time when they sat in the chair.  One by one, they left the reception area, and each came back in short order.  There were no issues, and no X-rays were taken.

As each of the kids was rummaging through their dental loot bag (toothbrush, toothpaste and floss), I went up to pay the bill.  I was figuring that because of the time spent in the hygienists’ chair by each of my kids that the damage wouldn’t be extensive.

I glance at the bill, and it said $529!!  My eyes scan the items on the invoice to check scaling and polishing units, recall exam and fluoride costs.  The number of units charged was correct, but why was it so expensive??  Upon further review, I noticed the charge per item was considerably more expensive than I’ve experienced in the past.  A typical scaling unit runs about $50-55 and recall exam is about the same.  The amount on this bill was over $70 per unit or 40% more expensive than a typical dentist office.

I asked why the cost was so much more expensive. The receptionist was taken back by my question and unsure of how to answer.  Obviously, not a lot of people look at their dental bill in this place. The Office Manager, who overheard my question, came over and told me that it’s because they are a Specialist practice and could charge Specialist rates.  I asked if the hygienists who did the lion’s share of the work were specialists?  She said that the Dentist was the Specialist and therefore able to charge the premium regardless of who performed the service in their office.

As a result of taking my kids to the dentist for their cleaning, I paid 40% more for the Specialist than if I’d gone to a normal dentist.

I paid the bill as itemized and left with my kids.

I may have left with $150 less in my wallet than I otherwise should have but now have a new story to tell clients and a wealth of knowledge to go along with the experience.

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