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Obtaining Dental Care in Massachusetts

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Dental Care Treatment in Massachusetts

Before the year ends, I want to round up my oral care posts by writing about obtaining dental care treatment in Massachusetts. Before I go to my experience, note that health insurance in the United States is confusing and complicated. When we were there, Obamacare officially called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) but more often called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short, was in effect. The law required that all Americans must obtain and maintain private health insurance beginning 2014. Those who couldn’t afford a private health insurance could apply for “Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP or tax credits or assistance with up-front costs through their state’s Health Insurance Exchanges (AKA Marketplace)”

teeth health

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In general, if you go to the United States on a work visa, your employer would recommend a private health insurance for you to select from. There is a period called open enrollment where you select and submit an application for health insurance. The premiums are shared between you and your employer. To read more about the Massachusetts health care reforms, visit the MA official website:

If you have your own private health insurance, dental care is already included.  Obtaining dental care treatment in Massachusetts is another thing and involves the following:

Persistence. Learn to navigate your private health insurance’s website. Sometimes, they’re not very clear. Go through the page where the doctors and clinics who are within the network are listed. Check to make sure that they are accepting new patients as some aren’t. Read the reviews.

Patience. You will find that the numbers and clinics may not be up to date.  You’ll have to go through the list before you can get a person on the phone. Sometimes, you’ll be lucky to get an appointment within a week. Usually, it would be about 2 to 3 weeks depending on how popular the dentist is. Have your Insurance details on hand. You will either be asked this on the phone or you’ll be required to fill a form online. If you are a dependent, make sure you know your spouse’ Social Security Number. They will ask this, too.

Dental Care Treatment – What to Expect

You got an appointment! Good on ya! On the day of your dental care treatment, you’ll be asked to arrive about 15 minutes early to fill out forms. Announce yourself to the reception and you’ll be given forms. Make sure you bring your health insurance card with you.

dentist chair

photo from pixabay

This is where the service varies, the person who greets you is not the dentist but the dental hygienist. She or He will check your teeth, x-ray your mouth, and clean your mouth on her / his own. Note the equipment used. I wasn’t impressed by the old looking equipment in the first clinic. This part of your dental care treatment relies solely on the dental hygienist. Some of the dental hygienists can be rough on your mouth so speak up when you feel pain. Cleaning, x-ray, and fluorides are included in the general cleaning.

When everything is done, the dentist will appear to check the x-ray and look at any potential issues or possible treatments you may need. After that your  dental care treatment for that occasion is done. Proceed to the reception to pay. For general cleaning, usually all the expenses will be covered by the insurance. If you selected no out-of-pocket expense in your insurance, you won’t have to pay a cent.

If your dental care treatment involves teeth filling, root canal, or anything other than general upkeep, you won’t get an exact number. The dentist and staff at our second clinic were fantastic(shout out to the Perkins Dental Clinic for their amazing service). They gave a range cost for the treatment and explained why they couldn’t give an exact figure.

Here’s why: Private Health Insurance companies dictate how much they’d pay for dental care treatment. The staff informed me that the percentage varies though she was able to give a pretty close estimate each time. You will, generally, have an amount to cover any doctor visits, i.e. general practitioner / family doctor, dentist, ophthalmologist, and buying items such as spectacles or contact lenses. Once that amount is used up, you’ll have to pay for everything in your succeeding visits unless the treatment or procedure is covered by your health insurance.

For H and I, we had US$1,500 to use for the year. After dental visits (general cleaning for both, two teeth filling for me, one for H), an eye checkup (once), and a pair of spectacles, the amount was used up.

Similar to Melbourne, I was able to purchase teeth whitening gels from the clinic without them having to order it in. The clinic also cleaned my mouth guards for free. It took about an hour but they simply placed it in the machine and whir they went.

That’s the end of my dental care treatment posts in Singapore, Australia, and the US. Hope you learned something useful.

Here’s to a great new year ahead!