The Telegraph has another horror story about Britain’s National Health Service:
People with toothache are resorting to pulling their own teeth because they cannot find a NHS dentist, a study out today says.
Almost a fifth of those questioned in the biggest patient survey of its kind said that they had missed out on dental work because of the cost.
The research, involving more than 5,000 patients in England, also found that as many as six per cent had treated themselves because they could not find a dentist.
Some said they took out their own teeth or fixed broken crowns with glue. One person in Lancashire had carried out 14 separate extractions with pliers.
A researcher at a shopping centre in Liverpool met three separate people in one morning who had pulled out teeth themselves.
Almost three fifths (58 per cent) of dentists said new contracts brought in last year had made the quality of care worse and 84 per cent thought the changes had failed to make it easier for patients to get an appointment.
Sharon Grant, chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, which set up the forums, said the results from patients and doctors indicated “serious failings” in the NHS dental system.
“It appears many patients are being forced to go private because they don’t want to lose their current trusted and respected dentist or because they just can’t find a local NHS dentist,” she said.
“There are real policy issues here that have been fudged for too long. Is NHS dentistry just for those who can’t afford anything else – or can it revert to a universal, affordable, service to which people have entitlement as citizens and tax- payers?
In the U.S., many people have dental insurance, but a great number do not. And the price of dental care here is quite high, though many dentists are willing to work out a payment plan for those without insurance.
Part of the problem here is a difference in attitude between socio-economic groups regarding the definitions of luxuries and necessities. I have helped poor people get emergency dental care because they were in pain with abscessed teeth. On the other hand, the economic choices I see many people make often preclude dental care.
They buy expensive cars, for example. One person I helped (because she was in pain) has a 2006 car and her payments cost $250.00 a month – not to mention the tax bill on such a new car, or the insurance premiums. She lost her job unexpectedly and is now stuck with this albatross – and then a few weeks ago was struck with a badly abscessed tooth. There is no room now in her life for any emergencies. And just when she thought things were at their worst, she hit a deer with her car and can’t afford the deductible it will require to have the car fixed even when her insurance company does pay up.
I have seen poor parents pay over $100.00 or more for sneakers for their children, yet would balk at the $85.00 it would take to have the same child’s teeth cleaned. For that matter, so would the child balk at parents making such a choice. The shame of wearing no-name shoes simply can’t be borne but dental care is a “luxury.”
– – – – – – – – –
The homes of those among the urban poor whose income would be considered “poverty level” always have expensive media equipment. Big TVs, DVD players and the DVDs to go with them, games, cameras, etc., are often in evidence. They also spend a great deal of money on fast food and pizza delivery. These people don’t have dentists on the radar until the pain starts, and then it is simply to get rid of the offending tooth rather than having regularly scheduled appointments for prevention and treatment.
In the end, it comes down to what we consider important. Will it be bread and circuses now or regular dental care and savings for old age? The statement from the bureaucrat quoted above – i.e., is dental care “a universal, affordable, service to which people have entitlement as citizens and tax- payers?” – strikes me as the epitome of what’s wrong with socialized medicine. Entitlements of any sort ruin what is best about human beings: their strivings for liberty. Entitlements breed resentment and envy. They are never enough and no government could raise enough taxes to offset the death of enterprise and striving that comes with making one’s own way in the world.
In fact, I would hazard a guess that the number of dentists per capita in Britain has probably declined since the onset of the systemic illness known as the NHS.
I pray that the US can avoid that particularly rabid affliction, one which the Democrats are anxious to bestow upon us, using our money — while they studiously avoid discussing the damage and side-effects such a disease would impose upon the body politic.
And if we do get socialized medicine imposed on us, where ever will the Canadians go for high risk premature babies?