By now, you've probably read about Deamonte Driver, the 12-year-old boy who died because he didn't get a tooth extracted.
Cost of the extraction: $80.
The story blames Medicare, but in my mind, the story brings up a different issue.
Dental insurance in the U.S. is a crock.
Regardless of the way the story is spun, you don't have to be poor not to have dental insurance. Dental insurance is a luxury for most people. Many companies don't even carry dental insurance, and those companies that do usually charge a lot of money for it. Recently, I was considering adding dental insurance to our family plan, but the cost was about 1/3 of medical insurance. It would be more cost effective to simply save the money and pay for the dentist's visits myself.
Secondly, most dental insurance is very poor, especially in comparison with the sorts of benefits one gets from medical insurance. Dental insurance usually covers regular check-ups and, perhaps, X-rays. But for any sort of dental treatment, including fillings, crowns, or root canals, dental insurance tends to work more like a discount plan, and a discount plan that isn't very good. In short, dental insurance sucks.
Deamonte Driver's death is a tragedy, but I hope it spurs more families to take care of their children's teeth.