Archive for the 'Family' Category
Not sure about the rest of the world, but usually when my daughter and I go to our dentist for our routine 6 month cleaning it takes about 20-30 minutes each. You sit down and they ask you about your mouth and any issues you might have. Then they check some things in your mouth and under your tongue before they begin the cleaning.
For me, a cleaning usually begins with 10-15 minutes with the scraping tool as they try and get the plaque from between the teeth and other places that we all miss when brushing/flossing. After this, they brush your teeth with a rotary tool which only takes about 5 minutes. And finally, at least at my dentist, the hygenist that did all the work yields a final check to the doctor who comes in to look around for a minute or two before the appointment is over.
Fascinating stuff! you must be thinking. Well, it is considering that I just took my little brother in to a new dentist today (Dr. Anwar Ahmad of 201 Elden Street Herndon, VA 20170) and the total visit lasted 5 minutes!
My little brother (from scouting) has not seen a dentist in 2 years roughly. So today was likely going to be a big day in terms of cleaning and talking about the problems he has in his mouth – sensitivity to cold and some bleeding gums after he brushes. I figured it would be a longer visit than normal accompanied by some lecture at the end to try and get Paul to brush more thoroughly and more often.
But after just 5 minutes in the examination room, he was finished! I prodded the dentist a bit as to why it was so quick? I asked him if he had any ideas on why Paul had sensitivity to cold, etc. The dentist gave us some quick “he needs to brush more, plaque” thing and that was it.
I walked out and then decided to go back and ask for a bill as I was not given one initially which was strange for a doctor visit. They printed one after telling me I did not need one as “you do not have to pay”. Of course I knew I did not need to pay as my little brother is now covered by VA State Healthcare (FAMIS). But I still wanted to see a bill.
Well they printed one out and it showed $353 in charges for this visit. I asked if that included an x-ray or not. The dentist said no. I asked if it was normal to have an x-ray every so often and the dentist said it was up to the doctor and not a normal routine practice (which is contrary to what I have always experienced – I think it is usually once a year). The dentist then got very defensive and upset with me. He told me that “he has been in dentistry and doing this for many years and why am I questioning him”. To be honest, I was just politely asking questions that any patient might ask. But he got defensive and unprofessional almost immediately which got my suspicions up to say the least.
Anyway, they also had two items on the bill for “Behavior Management” in the amount of $90 each. I talked to the insurance company and they said these would normally be billed for a patient who was having issues with the appointment – crying, etc. But there was none of that. The only thing my little brother asked before he went back to the room was whether it would hurt. No crying. No delay. And not only did they bill $90 once, but they billed it twice.
On the bill, they list that the insurance company would pay $173 which is the cost of the cleaning and flouride and examination. And this seems normal to me if the appointment had lasted more than 5 mins. But the two charges for $90 each were listed under “patient pays” and then crossed out when they handed me the bill.
So I don’t know what the deal is.
- Does the dentist usually bill the other $180 and when they can’t get reimbursed, they write it off and sort of cheat their taxes?
- Was the dentist going to eventually try and bill me for the extra $180 that the “insurance did not cover”? Maybe they still will try?
Either way, this was a terrible experience. A boy who had not seen a dentist in two years got a superficial cleaning and can not see a dentist for another six months now.
I called the insurace company (smiles4children) run by the state of VA and while they were very nice and helpful, they have no recourse to take. They will pay for the appointment, can not take any information from the patient in terms of the quality of the visit, and will not even question the services rendered. I guess I feel for them as how can they just believe one person. But if they had a way for people to register complaints and enough people complained about certain doctors, maybe they would get some better intelligence on the doctors they are hiring to see their patients…the poor of Virginia.
I can’t help thinking about our health care debate in light of this experience. $353 for 5 minutes with a doctor and his assistant.
What do you think? Am I being overly sensitive? Is this what I should expect?7 comments
Here are some shots my son took on our walk. Some pretty cool stuff actually. He even took the time to edit them in iPhoto and add some contrast, toning and more. I think he liked the results.
We were swimming at our neighbor’s pool last week and somehow got talking about bugs. I think there was a big one in the pool and the kids were all scared of it, etc. So I told them about the Cicadas and my neighbor’s 5 year old, Arthur, was fascinated. He just could not believe my stories. So I told him I would find a picture of one that I took in the backyard and send it to him.
Below is the image along with some video I dug up. The most amazing thing in the video is the sound. It was deafening!
(click on the image below to play the movie)
Every summer there is a great festival in Baltimore called Artscape. The festival is located next to the Maryland Institute College of Art, the symphony and several other artsy attractions in the city. Lots of music, local artisans, food, beer and fun stuff for kids. This year I went with my kids for the first time in maybe a decade and we had a lot of fun seeing the band CAKE and playing with hoola hoops and more. This image sums it up for me :-)
I decided to rip our wedding video after Rylan mentioned she wanted to watch it on our anniversary (14th!) but we had no VCR anymore. Actually we did, but it got me to thinking that it might be a good idea to digitize it sooner than later. The video below is a 3 min highlight reel from the hour+ tape. What was especially enjoyable was seeing Kim totally dash in and steal the bouquet from the others followed by Chris catching the garter from me when no other man even made an attempt :-)3 comments
Back in March I was looking for a fun place to go for spring break. While most people think Florida and Mexico, I found a cheap flight from Dulles to Albuquerque (direct) for just $178 a head.
We spent a week in and around Albuquerque visiting the White Sands Missle Range, White Sands National Monument, Roswell’s Alien Museums, Carlsbad Cavers and even made it up to Santa Fe to visit my Aunt Terri and see the very nice little town. We had some nice food at the Artichoke CafÃ© in Albuquerque as well as several Mexican joints along the way. And if the kids had been into it, we even could have skied in Santa Fe or even up in Taos….it was cold enough and even snowed on us a little.
We camped a couple of nights along the way in a KOA campground in Alamagorda and another in Santa Fe. Other than that, we stayed in inexpensive hotels….inexpensive for NM is fairly good actually. The cost of living out there is dirt cheap.
Highlights? Well maybe sledding on sand at White Sands. Or seeing my cousin Terry and her place which I had never been to. But we also had fun in the Albuquerque kids musueum. Absolutely the best science museum I have ever been to. The displays were very unique and the staff was excellent. We really enjoyed that place a lot.
Roswell was fun too. A lot of UFO (scary!!) stuff going on. We went to the “International” Museum of UFO stuff and it was just as cheesy as I had hoped. Very fun. Roswell even has street lights with Alien heads on them.
Maybe next year we will head out for a week or skiing and see Taos.
Several months ago my son, Jacob, was bored one weekend. I was trying to get him away from the TV and interested in doing something. I told him I was available for a project. He said he wanted to build a go kart.
So I turned him onto the inter-tube and told him to get busy researching the pieces, costs, and designs. We intended to try and build something together for $300 or so. We had fun looking around the web and found a used roto-tiller engine for $80 on Craig’s List as well as several steering/wheel assembly designs. Things looked good.
Later in the week I spoke with a couple of folks and mentioned the project. Farmer John Mcintyre said he knew of a few good dumpster diving locations for scrap metal as well a cheap metal wholesaler out in Manassas. Jake and I did a little scouting in the dumpster and it showed good promise for steel rod and similar items.
I also mentioned the project to my brother-in-law. He did not say much other than he thought it was cool and he had always wanted a go kart as a kid. Little did I know that he (Byron) took it as a challenge.
About two weeks later Byron emailed me with news that he may have found a kart in good shape being sold by some kids who lived near his place in Hartford, CT. They said the kart ran but it was missing the chain and other parts. Plus the throttle assembly was all strange looking (kids had adjusted things).
Two weeks ago, Byron and his family were scheduled to come down to Virginia to visit. Byron bought the cart and a few parts for it and loaded it on top of his mini van! Not sure how he got it up there as it weighs nearly 200 lbs. Somehow he did and it managed not to bring the roof of the car down. So on he drove 400 miles down I-95 with a go kart on his roof.
When Jake saw it he was jumping for joy! He had no idea.
We got it down and started working on it. First we took the carberator off and showed the kids (Cousin Rex and Jake) how it worked. It was very clean inside which was a good sign. After bolting the carb back on we filled it with gas and tried it. It did start and ran a bit but the throttle springs/levers were wacked.
Byron and I spent an hour or two pondering it and how it was supposed to work. John my neighbor even offered some advice which turned out got us on the right track. But it was not until we found the very last page on the internet that google offered, that we got a picture of what it was really supposed to look like. It was a part supplier who actually sold the throttle assembly and the sales page had a picture of it with the rest of the engine in the background….exactly how it was supposed to go! But the image thumbnail was broken…damn! But after looking closely, we found that the java based pop-up window showed the correct URL and we were able to re-construct it. The image had what we needed. Cool. I love the internet.
After fixing the linkage, the engine ran fairly well. We fine tuned the idle a bit and put on the wheels. Then we had the kids get the rust off and give it a fresh coat of paint (well after the first set of test runs!). Byron added a skill and cross bones flag made out of an old fishing pole and spray painted backpack. The rest, is shall we say, history!
We got a new heat pump in November and it was one of these ultra efficient new systems (R-410 type). I was surprised this month to see a bill seemingly exceed any bill I had ever paid for electricity before (we have an all electric house). So I went back 9 years and plotted out our usage as well as the per kWh costs. I found that we were using about as much as we had over the last 3 years or so…and given that this winter has certainly been cold or maybe colder than recent winters, I guess things are looking good. And we certainly have a lot more always on electronic stuff in the house these days than in the old days. Maybe we should unplug some stuff and be a little greener? We do have CFL bulbs in 90% of the house, new windows in most of the house, and I did the weather stripping this year. But jeez, that is a lot of kWh.
The below graph is a plot of usage (kWh) by month in blue with a 2 month moving average trend line (scale in kWh on left axis) compared to the cost per kWh in red with a linear trend line (scale on righ axis in $). Wow has the cost of a kWh gone up a lot! 250% in 8 years which is like 15% a year. How about that for deregulation inflation. (click image for larger)2 comments