Monday, August 11, 2008

Massachusetts Dental Pain

Massachusetts blogger Paula Hall dissects the latest problem with Massachusetts' universal health care -- lack of dental care -- in her latest blog post, "A Pocket Full of Insurance and no Dental Care to Buy".

Here are some excerpts she's highlighted from the following article in the August 7, 2008 Boston Globe. Again, it highlights the fact that "coverage" is not the same as actual care:
Dental benefits widen, waiting lines grow

Two years into the state's bold healthcare experiment, its early success in expanding dental coverage may be threatened by a shortage of dentists willing to treat newly insured patients.

...Dentists say the state's reimbursement rate for adults covers only about half their costs, and they also cite payment delays and burdensome paperwork.

...The Massachusetts Dental Society has been urging members to join, saying it is the responsible thing to do. But it's been slow going.

...Michael Wasserman, a Pittsfield dentist who treats some subsidized patients [stated,] "I think if a dentist is going to treat these patients he or she should not be forced to lose money."
Dr. Wasserman is exactly right and the Massachusetts Dental Society is exactly wrong here. It is wrong for the state dental society to claim that their member dentists have a moral responsibility to work at a loss. No has the right to demand that one person commit professional or economic suicide for the sake of another.

Currently dentists can still remain financially viable because they are not forced to accept everyone covered by the state plan, but can voluntarily choose how many of the government-covered patients they will accept. In essence, the private sector patients are continuing to subsidize the government patients.

But if the socialists have their way, private insurance is outlawed, and the government pays all dental bills (i.e., "single payer"), what will happen? How many dentists will continue to practice if they have to work at a loss?

At the economic level, the big mistake is conflating "coverage" with actual health care. David Hogberg explains the danger of this fallacy at, "'Health care,' more or less".

At the philosophical level, the underlying problem is the premise that dental care is a "right". If idea is fully and consistently implemented, this essentially turns dentists into slaves of the state. Massachusetts hasn't gotten there yet, but it is moving in the wrong direction. We shall see how far Massachusetts dentists are willing to go along with this idea before they rebel.