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"Dentists and Dragons - Chapter 3" by Troy H. Cheek on Mar 14, 2005
(If you missed Part 2, go back and read it first!)
"Thank you for calling CrapDent customer service. If you are calling from your home phone, press ONE now."
"You have pressed... ONE. If this is correct, press SEVEN now."
"You have pressed... SEVEN. If this is correct, press FIVE to speak to a customer service representative. If this is not correct, please hold for the next available customer service representative."
After a subjective hour of being on hold, I finally get to speak to a customer service representative.
"Thank you for calling CrapDent. This is, uh, Jack. How can we help you today?"
Finally. "Yes, this is Troy Cheek. I was calling to see if y'all had made that change to my primary care dentist so you would pay for that root canal I'm having next week."
I could hear, uh, Jack rustling papers, which was weird because everything was on computers. "Of course we can check that, sir. Can I have your home phone number, area code first?"
"Uh, Jack, I'm calling from my home phone. That information should be available to you."
More papers are rustled. "Of course, sir. Please hold." Seconds pass. "Sir? For confirmation purposes, can I have your home phone number, area code first?"
"No, you may not, uh, Jack. Every time I've called, I've had to give my home phone number, home address, social security number, and sometimes business number. When I complained about it, I was told that this was necessary because I wasn't calling from my home phone, so you had to have all that information to confirm my identity. Well, this time I did call from my home phone. So there!"
"Of course, sir. Please hold."
I was beginning to wonder if, maybe, I whited out the "D" and made it an "M" if this insurance would pay for a nice quiet vacation somewhere in a motel with padded walls and rubber bars.
"Sir? Thank you for holding. This is, uh, Melanie. I'm the head customer service representative. How can we help you today?"
"Yes, uh, Melanie. I was complaining to, uh, Jack that I keep having to give my home phone number, home address, social security number, and other information every time I call to confirm my identity, all because I've been calling from work and not from my home number. However, today I'm calling from my home phone number and y'all are still asking for that information."
"I'm sorry for the inconvenience, sir. I'll note in your file that we don't need to ask the confirmation questions if our computers flag that you are calling from your home phone number, which it seems they do today."
I sighed with relief. "Thanks, uh, Melanie. That's one less thing I have to worry about."
"No problem, sir." Lengthy pause. "Uh, sir? To access your file to make the changes, I'll need your home phone number..."
Grrr. I gave them my home phone number, home address, social security number, and business number. I also gave them my eye color and my mother's maiden blood type.
Eventually, they confirmed that my primary care dentist had indeed been changed to Dentist #5. They had even retroactively changed him so that he had been my primary care dentist since the start of the previous month. In fact, they'd done such a good job that they couldn't tell that I'd ever had a different primary care dentist listed. Ever.
This last gave me pause, as I had indeed had different primary care dentists listed in the past and had even had office visits with them. I had visions of receiving bills for office visits which retroactively had not been to approved dentists and for which I was suddenly liable, but I pushed them aside for now.
I had another call to make.
"Thank you for calling the office of Dentist #5. How can we help- Oh, hi, Troy!"
These people, at least, have learned how to use a caller ID display. "Hi, Sherry." I had learned to recognize voices. "I just talked to CrapDent and they said that you are now my primary care dentist. I was just calling to make sure they'd told you that."
Yes, indeed, they had. In fact, I was retroactively assigned to them as of the start of the previous month. But they'd be nice and waive that $2 payment.
"What $2 payment?" I asked suspiciously.
"Well, Troy, you came in for a problem-specific consult, which without insurance we charge $60. But now you're in our system as a CrapDent patient. The charge for a problem-specific consult for a CrapDent patient is $80. Out of that, CrapDent pays $18. So you owe us $2." Sensing my impending stroke, she hastily added "But, since you've been such a good customer, we're waving that extra $2."
"Thanks. I think."
"Any time, Troy," she said entirely too perkily. "See you next week!"
Yeah, right. Okay. The insurance was taken care of. Nothing to worry about now except for the root canal itself. Time for another Google search on "root canal myths" to sooth my nerves.
For those who haven't been keeping up, several months ago I bit into some cheap beef jerky and chipped a tooth. Tooth #31, they tell me. I had planned to have this taken care of during my next regularly scheduled examination, but before that date arrived, I was told that my insurance coverage from work was changing and I'd have to choose another dentist. After a few months of insurance wrangling, I was finally able to choose Dentist #1, who said he could fix my tooth with a filling, but it turned out that he wasn't taking my insurance anymore. After another few weeks, this diverted me to Dentist #2, who said the tooth was too far gone for a filling to help and I either needed it pulled or a root canal. He couldn't do either of those procedures, which caused more wrangling and a visit to Dentist #3, who said he could pull my tooth for me but that I really needed a root canal. Oh, he doesn't do root canals. More wrangling. Dentist #4 can do the root canal, but after that I'll need a crown and he doesn't do crowns. More wrangling, more calls, more cursing, and eventually I end up with Dentist #5, who can't accept me as a patient until I'm on his CrapDent roll, and CrapDent saying that I can't be put on the roll until about two months hence, as Dentist #5 won't accept me as a patient until them. I eventually got them to see that they were each blaming the other for a non-problem and got myself listed, enrolled, and whatever else was necessary.
After several months, with a tooth that had gone from a minor chip to a huge gaping cavity, everything was finally going my way.
And then I got a letter from CrapDent.
Dear Mr. Cheek:
We regret to inform you that your current primary care dentist, Dentist #1, has recently informed us that they will no longer be a participating provider effective the end of last month. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and your family.
To ensure continuous access to your dental care benefits, we have transferred your eligibility to the following primary care dentist, Dentist #2, effective the end of this month.
If this dentist is not acceptable, please contact CrapDent customer during regular office hours blah blah blah.
Always a pleasure to serve, blah blah blah, CrapDent Member Services
As I'd mentioned before, I'd gone through Dentists #1 and #2 months ago, and had told CrapDent several times that Dentist #1 was going to stop taking their insurance long before he had an opening in his appointment book for me. And I'd told them that Dentist #2 was not acceptable because, silly me, I didn't want to go to a dentist who didn't actually pull teeth. I ended up calling CrapDent again and speaking to, uh, Chrissie, who eventually told me that I could safely ignore the letter since all record of it being sent had apparently been erased when they retroactively changed my primary care dentist that last time.
R-day, as I decided to call the day I'd start my root canal, finally came. I got up that morning, showered, shaved, picked out clean underwear, got in the truck, and headed off to the dentist. I was calm, cool, and collected. I was not the slightest bit worried. I was a man and I could most definitely handle this. No problem.
I also made a side trip and picked up my mommy to bring with me.
My appointment was scheduled for 11:00 AM, so we left in time to get us there at an estimated 10:30 AM. I got that from my father. If baseball practice was scheduled for 5, he'd get us there at 4:30. And if nobody else showed up by 4:40, he'd declare that nobody else was coming and take us back home.
I missed a lot of baseball practices that way.
In spite of a few traffic problems, we arrived plenty early. As we walked in, I heard one of the office staff call to the other "Oh, never mind! He's here!"
"Yes, of course I'm here," I said as I signed in. "Is there some kind of problem?"
"Oh, you were late, so we were about to cancel you as a no-show."
I checked the time again. "Late? My appointment was for 11:00 AM. It's just now 10:40 AM."
"Well, by our clock, it's 10:45 AM." She looked again. "10:46 now, but you've already signed in, so we can't cancel you now."
"But my appointment was for 11:00 AM," I repeated.
"Yes, but, as you know, if you don't sign in at least 15 minutes before you scheduled appointment time, we consider you a no-show and give you appointment to someone else."
No, I didn't know that, and told them. "If you wanted me here by 10:45 AM, why didn't you just tell me to come in by 10:45?"
"Oh, we couldn't do that. If we did that, we'd have to consider you a no-show at 10:30!" They all got a big laugh out of that.
With my mother telling me not to roll my eyes like that, we sat and waited until 11:30 AM, at which time I was taken back to a treatment room with no clock, so I don't know how much longer it was until Dentist #5 finally came in.
That's when the fun really started.
Continue on to Part 4.
Copyright 2005 by Troy H. Cheek. Reprint with prior written permission only. Comments and questions to
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|This page last updated on Oct 30, 2005 by Troy H. Cheek|