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McElhinny: A Tootsie Roll costs how much?

| Sunday, July 24, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

When a nice woman told me I should have a crown, I sheepishly told her she was very kind but I'm not as great as I seem and bestowing royalty on me is unwarranted.

She completely ignored my nervous banter and prepared the Novocain to begin a multi-visit procedure to have my first root canal, followed by a crown. This whole odyssey started as I decided to try a piece of candy that I hadn't had in many years — a Tootsie Roll. Or as I like to call them — Filling Removers.

A few days and a lot of Advil later, a trip to the dentist actually determined that losing a decayed filling was the least of my problems.

After all the work was done and the tooth dust had settled, I had a brand new chopper. All that remained was to have a cleaning. When I arrived to have my teeth polished to a high sheen, they told me I should get X-rays, too, since I haven't had any in a while.

I asked them if it was covered by my insurance. After looking at a monitor, they told me that X-rays were “definitely” covered.

A couple of weeks later, I got a bill in the mail for the visit. I called the dentist's office to explain and was promptly told that it was not their problem. Even though I relied on their expertise, their mistake cost me hundreds. A call to my insurance company yielded the same results.

So who does the blame fall on? The tooth professionals who steered me wrong? The insurance company? In this day and age, the answer is simple. The blame goes squarely on me.

The days of relying on your doctor, dentist or holistic practitioner (if that's your thing) to explain to you what is covered by your insurance is over. It's up to the patient solely to call the insurance provider and find out exactly what's covered prior to having anything done. If you rely on what you're told by your health-care provider and they're wrong, it can and will come back to bite you.

It was an expensive lesson, but one I won't make again.

The good news is that my new tooth works like a charm and I can now eat all the Tootsie Rolls I want without pain. The bad news? Now I can't afford to buy them.

Dave McElhinny is the North Bureau Chief for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-772-6362 or at dmcelhinny@tribweb.com.

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