“My $36 Root Canal” or “Who Needs Novocaine?” (Repost from March, 2007)

note: this blog was originally posted in March of 2007 following what turned out to be a 25% successful dental procedure.  It was also written before U.S. healthcare was declared a civil war.  I have reposted as a partner to my next post: China’s Changing Health Care.

For years I have been frustrated and baffled by the racket we call health insurance. It’s not so much the impossible to understand hmo jargon or the whole, “sorry, the only doctor left in your network is a first year nursing student at the community college.” The biggest irritation for me has always been the annual 27% premium increase (can I get an amen?)
I have found the answer!

Ready for this . . . Here it is . . . Move to China. Simple as that. I have crossed over into a new world of dental, health care options. No long hours in the waiting room just walk right in, take a seat and bzzzzzzzzzzz root canal!

The entire process took about three weeks, each one a little less painful that the previous and the final bill . . . that’s right . . . 36 bucks. Granted there were a few teeny tiny downside details like that shot of novocaine that, with frightening precision, numbed the entire right side of my face except the actual tooth and corresponding nerve which were then drilled and impaled with a scrapy, picky tool. The bad however, was far outweighed by the priceless education of the whole experience. For instance, it took me no time at all to learn the Chinese words for RRRAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! THAT HURTS!! and did you know that if the little spit sucker thing doesn’t work you can stuff a patients mouth with cotton balls to sop up the puddle of saliva pooling in the back of his throat? Seriously . . . I never knew that.

So, I hate to come off like an insurance salesman but if you’re tooth hurts but you’re worn out with the mind numbing nightmare of hmo’s, inadequate copays and the endless political debate surrounding it all . . . call your travel agent right now (don’t wait) grab 36 bucks and some novocaine if you’ve got it and we’ll pick you up at the airport.

Just one quick disclaimer for integrity’s sake. The picture above, although strikingly similar to my experience, is not actually me. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to pull out my camera phone and snap a picture but I just couldn’t get up the nerve. Must have been the novocaine. Oh wait.

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