While many employers offer dental insurance, often it does not cover major dental procedures. Sherry Dune, a 61-year old New York resident, experienced the nightmare of cancer. Sherry was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed surgery, radiation which took over three years of other body issues resulting from the treatment. Loss of weight, ability to chew and swallow, pain, dry mouth, decay and so much more. When she emailed me, she said: “A volunteer from the Cancer Institute came to support with recommendations of where to get a wig, support groups, nutritionists and other care but never mentioned dental.”
“She said the damage to her oral cavity and the burning mouth was harder and more painful than the treatment for cancer.”
“the 55lbs is a lot to shed but how can you eat when your entire mouth is in pain!” I gave up going to the nutritionist since it never helps me with the pain.
Finally, her husband took her to her longtime dentist who told her that she needed treatment for advanced periodontitis and extractions and implants. After three years of therapy with many copayments, deductibles and medications that cost more than rent her need for financial help were evident. They asked her doctor, “can you bill to medical so we can get some of this paid”? The manager said no since they do not bill medical.
Sherry and her husband went online and googled medical billing for dental and reached me. She sent me her information begging me to help bill her medical for the work. Receiving emails from patients has become a regular part of my week, and its time to tell our oral physicians if we all understand the oral-systemic issues and explain to our patients why our treatment is not optional but necessary we can make a change. I cannot make the difference without our providers who understand the need and want to help. We must train all of the oral physicians how to work with the medical physicians, how to be billers not just for dental but medical and to learn the laws of their state and federal. Coding is now international and is growing, so I say let's commit to working with our patients.
She and others over the years have begged me, and I feel I must start to let our industry know that you have a patient like Sherry who needs this help and are not sure you want to or have the knowledge of how to address it.
We need to make it happen if we are indeed working on our patient's overall health and well being we will make a difference. There is a real need for our services, and we need to let the world know we are not an option but a necessity.
We could have helped before Sherry starting her cancer treatment, if the physicians are taking care of her know what we can do, or if our patients can read about it.
Who better to spread the word, who better to start to learn what you can do for everyone who walks into your office?
The key is to spread knowledge and indeed implement it, with knowledge compassion and help from our billers to help your patients will be in the best collaborative treatment care across the country. The oral-systemic issues part of your everyday treatment planning, we will change the landscape of dentistry to the most necessary form of medicine this country can offer.