$25,000 and Counting: The Cost of an Infected Tooth

I’m  happy to report that all repercussions from the tooth saga have resolved. The only way you’d know anything occurred is  the small scar just under my jaw and the hole in my mouth where my second molar once resided.

Oh, and the pile of bills growing like mold in a petri dish.

Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

So far, my insurance company informed me last week, we are up to $25,554.98 for the outpatient, emergency room, and inpatient care, including two CT scans, that I received in August thanks to the aberrant tooth infection that morphed into an abscess that required surgery to drain.

With the discounts the insurance company negotiated with providers, that amount fell to $22,903 (a 10.3% discount for those keeping track).

My share of the cost so far is $2,413.67. That doesn’t count any dental expenses, which are covered under my dental insurance. I estimate they total about $1,500 so far for  two visits to the dentist, three visits to the oral surgeon (including one tooth pulling under general anesthesia), and one visit to the endodontist. Oh, and my out-of-pocket cost will be at least half of that, if not more.

Thankfully, my family has excellent health insurance (the dental insurance I’m not as thrilled with). But what about the nearly 50 million adults who don’t? How would they handle what will likely be $30,000 or more in out-of-pocket medical expenses for an infected tooth?

They won’t. They will either wind up paying a substantial portion of their income to healthcare providers for years, or declaring bankruptcy. Did you know that medical expenses are the main reason Americans declare personal bankruptcy?

Now, you tell me, is our healthcare system broken or not?

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