Sunday, March 15, 2009

I can go to any dentist of my choice

I currently live in Tokyo, Japan. I am a citizen born abroad--born in Japan. I lived in the States for 15 years, but my family stayed in Japan.

When I was in nursing school about 7 years ago, my tooth started hurting.
I had dental insurance, but when I called to make an appointment, not one dentist in the area would accept my insurance. They all said that my insurance "never paid" so they stopped accepting it.
After calling over 20 dentists, I finally gave up and got seen, self-pay. I was told that I needed to see a specialist to get a root canal. However, again, no one would take my insurance, and I could not afford the $1000 + that the procedure would cost. If I need a crown placed, I would have to pay much more.

The dentist told me that the only other option I had was to go to the Emergency Room where my tooth would be pulled.
I was in my 20s! I REFUSED to get my tooth pulled! All I needed was a root canal!

So what did I do?

I saved up my student loan money, waited for 4 months until Christmas break and flew back to Japan where my family lived--and where I still was covered under the National Health Insurance.

The morning after I arrived in Japan, I went to a dentist and got a root canal. Just like that. I think it cost me, mmm, like $30.

My tooth was in such bad shape--my face was swollen, I couldn't chew because my gums were so swollen that it lifted up my infected tooth, and I was in so much pain. My dentist told me that if I had waited just a little longer, the infection would have spread to my bone--a very dangerous situation. He couldn't believe or understand why I was unable to get care.

The airfare cost about $800. The root canal cost about $30. So, it was CHEAPER for me to fly for 17 hours over the Pacific to the other side of the planet, than to walk down the street to a dentist in my neighborhood in the US, to get a simple root canal.
Plus, I got to see my family and friends and enjoy good sushi as well. What a bargain ;)

Oh, and now that I LIVE in Japan and don't have to take a plane to see a dentist, I only have to pay $30. And, I can go to any dentist of my choice. Whenever I want.


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