Your Smile Dental Care blog

29-09-2014 3-15-09 PM


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Dental Identity Theft

Have you ever heard of “Patient identity theft?”

IDThere have been several stories that have made headlines recently about stolen patient information. Sadly, the most recent story involved hospital staff selling this personal data.

So, don’t be surprised if the next time you visit your dentist, chiropractor or other health care provider that you are asked to provide proof of your identity with a piece of photo ID. If you are a new patient that is not yet familiar to the staff, a photo ID may have to accompany your dental insurance card.

Why?

Insurance companies are reporting a rise in identity theft to falsely obtain health care services. In dentistry, patient identity theft occurs when someone uses another individual’s personal information to obtain access to dental services and insurance benefits. This translates into money having to be paid back to your insurer and inaccurate treatment information being entered into the personal data they have on file for you. You may even lose your benefits.

Typical Scenario…

A person with a dental emergency may be fortunate enough to schedule a dental appointment for same day treatment of a specific dental emergency – for let’s say, a broken filling or tooth. Equipped with the name, address, birthdate, and employer of an individual other than themselves, they provide the administrating staff with this personal information as well as the insurance policy numbers needed to file a claim for said treatment. They may also present the actual dental insurance ID card and the office may agree to this method of payment.

Treatment is performed, the online claim is filed and acknowledged and the person leaves – never to be seen again. No one is the wiser unless the insurance company rejects payment or the legitimate patient discovers the fraud while reviewing their benefit statement.

Sometimes, however, the fraud is only discovered when a person has similar treatment performed on the same tooth. Let’s say, or example, a person using someone’s identity has a tooth removed. If the actual person has dental care, such Painas a filling, performed on that same tooth their insurance will refuse to pay out benefit money for a tooth that their records indicate has already been removed. Other times, a person discovers the fraud when they realize that all of their benefits have been used up or “maxed” for the year even though they have not received the equivalent  amount of treatment.

This is where it becomes complicated, time-consuming and frustrating for the victimized patient and the dental office. When the insurer discloses the information they have on file, the office and/or patient must provide proof that this treatment was never performed on the legitimate individual. It becomes an administrative nightmare when the investigation begins. Ultimately, the first dental office that provided this service to the fraudulent person will have to pay back all of the monies paid out to them by the insurance company.


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How To Protect Yourself

Anyone who has access to your insurance information can try to submit a fraudulent claim. Here are some practical steps you can take to help protect yourself and your benefit plan:

1. Request that your insurer send you a statement of all dental transactions even if payment was paid directly to the dental office. Review the information carefully to ensure it’s accuracy. An online source of this information would be more preferable rather than a postal mailing. Report any suspicious activity immediately to your insurer.

2. Safeguard all documents that contain your personal information. If you like to keep a copy of dental statements, do so in a safe and secure place or convert them into an electronic format.

3. If contacted by email or telephone, never confirm any personal information even if the person making the inquiry seems legitimate. Instead, call your insurer using the telephone number on your ID card or a recent statement and ask if they are requesting this information.

4. Do not carry your dental ID card in your wallet. Keep it in a safe and secure location.

5. Never sign a blank insurance form and review any claims submitted on your behalf. Request a copy for your records.

6. Ask your healthcare provider how they handle and disclose your personal information. All dental offices in the province of Ontario have to keep this information on hand and available to patients.

7. Never “lend” someone your insurance benefits. Even when you think you are being helpful by providing a friend or family member with access to your personal dental benefits you are only harming yourself and any future care you may need. Your insurer will take action against you. Not only will you lose your benefits, you can be charged with fraud and prosecuted.

8. Make sure to regularly update the antivirus and antispyware on your computer.

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Never be offended if you are asked to provide proof of your identity

Unfortunately, identity theft is a growing trend and we must all be vigilant. Never be offended if you are asked to provide proof of your identity. You are entrusting your healthcare providers with your personal information and until more insurance companies begin providing photo dental ID cards to their clients, it is a considerate and reasonable safeguard done for your protection.

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Everyone involved becomes a victim. This is one of the reason why many insurance companies are dealing with the owner of the policy only and why healthcare providers are now expecting their patients to pay the entire charge at the time of service. It is also one of the contributing causes for the ever rising costs of healthcare and benefit premiums. All of this makes access to healthcare more difficult.

So remember, you can decrease your dental and financial risk in an identity theft situation. Be Smart! Be Safe!

The Your Smile Dental Care Team

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Losing your Health Care Benefits

Where did the years go?

The first time we saw Maria (not real name)  was 25 years ago, when we first opened our Oshawa practice. She was fortunate enough to have a job that had a great health care insurance program and she made sure that she took advantage of those benefits, faithfully attending to her oral health care needs at home and at our office over the years.

06-04-2015 3-50-50 PMWith her retirement quickly approaching and no healthcare package being offered after retirement, she told us of her concern over losing her dental benefits. We were happy to tell her that, at 60 years of age, she had what we would call an above-average state of oral health. Aside from a small amount of age-related bone loss and wearing down of biting surfaces, she has preserved her teeth remarkably well over the years.

No one has a crystal ball and we cannot not anticipate all future problems that our patients will have, but we know that a lifetime of good oral health will keep future dental care to a minimum. We had the opportunity to discuss common, age-related dental issues  and encouraged her to maintain her 4 month cleaning schedule to help keep her future dental costs to a minimum.

She is more happy than ever that she took care of her teeth and gums over the years.

Preparing for tomorrow TODAY!

06-04-2015 3-37-37 PMMany Canadian employers do not offer retiree benefits. In fact, over the years we have noticed an increasing trend of employers not offering any benefits to their employees. Another issue to consider is that, inevitably, your aging children will one day no longer be insured under your dental plan. And with the economy still trying to recover, many families are still in a situation where they must use what little disposable income they have judiciously.

How can people keep the dental portion of their health care costs down? What is the best advice we can give to our patients?

Take care of your teeth!!!!!

An ounce of Prevention … it’s a tale as old as time, but it will pay off!

We have seen first hand that there tends to be less stress related to the loss of the dental benefits by those patients who have faithfully cared for their oral health over the years. For those who opt to  purchase a private dental plan after retirement and ask our advice about which level of coverage to choose, we can’t always tell them with certainty what their future will hold. We find, however, that those people who have cared for their teeth meticulously over the years will likely experience less of the “unexpected” that some aging mouths have to deal with.

If you were to implement the tips below, your future self will thank you. It’s as easy as remembering your…

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Attitude

Adopt of new way of thinking. Dental care is not expensive – dental neglect is! Although your years may pass quickly, the road of health can be a rocky one if you do not live well. Among the things that we have control over in our lives, dental care is one of them. It takes so little of your time, but has one of the biggest impacts down the road.

Willie Nelson once said, “If I had known I’d live this long, I would’ve taken better care myself.” We’ve heard this same pain of regret from patients over the years concerning their teeth, and if they had the chance, they would give their left eye tooth, er … anything to do life all over again knowing what they know now.

Brushing

The best bang for your buck! There is very little cost associated with buying a new toothbrush every 3 months and using it 3 times a day. Floss and toothpaste should last a month, if you are maximizing the time you use them. Remind your children often how important home care is.

We had one patient who told us that their 35 year old son never appreciated her tooth brushing reminders until he had a family of his own and no dental insurance. His wife required extensive restoring of her decaying teeth and it was an ongoing source of stress on their household expenses. In parenting his own children, he hears the echo of his own mother’s words coming out of his own mouth with a renewed appreciation.

Checkups

See your dentist at least twice a year for an examination and cleaning. It may sound counter-productive to your dentist’s income, but they really do want their patients to have healthy mouths. The frequency of re-evaluation examinations and cleanings depend largely on your level of tartar build up and your risk for dental disease.

On average, our adult patients who come in for regular 4 month cleanings, have very little, if any, dental problems. We think this is because they tend to be the kind of people who are already committed to a healthy lifestyle for their overall well being and approach their dental home habits and diet with the same level of commitment and care.

Diet

Today there is sugar in almost everything we eat because manufacturer’s use it as an inexpensive filler. It is almost impossible to avoid sugar. So how do you get around it? Meal frequency. No more snacking all day long! No more grazing. No more little meals all throughout the day. Eat 3 meals a day leaving 4 to 5 hours in between each. This will allow your saliva to repair your teeth from the sugar attacks they received at each meal. Cut down on processed foods and educate yourself on foods that are more kind to teeth than others.

School snacks at recess time were never the norm years ago. How did it make it’s way into our daily school routine? Childhood cavities are on the rise! Make sure your child has a nourishing breakfast that will stay with them until they begin to feel hungry again just before lunchtime. Hunger is the body’s way of telling you that it is time to eat. Hunger is normal! Learn how to pack a nourishing lunch for your child and collaborate with your child’s physician and dentist if they have a health condition that necessitates more than 3 meals a day.

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…is for Smoking. Smoking does so much damage to your teeth and gums. It is one of the worst things you can do to your body and one of the best things you can do for health is to stop using tobacco products. If you have thought about quitting, you’re one step closer to being smoke-free!

The sooner you become smoke-free, the sooner your body can start to recover and it doesn’t take long to see the effects.

Within one year of quitting, your added risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half than that of a smoker.
– Within 5 years, your risk of having a stroke will be nearly that of a non-smoker.
– Within 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
– Within 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease will be similar to that of a non-smoker. courtesy of heartandstroke.com

 

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Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533

20-07-2015 2-59-31 PM


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Your Smile Before You Retire

20-07-2015 2-51-10 PMRecently, one of our staff member’s spouses retired from General Motors. In fact, earlier this year GMC offered retirement incentives to eligible employees at it’s Oshawa Plant, so we will see hundreds of General Motor employees retire soon.

While financial advisors suggest that we “practice retirement” for at least a year before our actual retirement date, many GM employees, who were not thinking about retiring for another few years, had only a month to reconsider and decide on a retirement package.

We had a front row seat to the great deal of preparation that goes into an unexpected retirement as many of our own patients were among those that chose early retirement. When there is suddenly a significant reduction in health and dental benefits, or worse, a loss of benefits, your present and future dental health becomes an essential consideration as you transition into retirement.

Our Oshawa patients are fortunate to retire with benefits, but they are significantly reduced and must be used with discretion. So, if you have the luxury of time before you retire, updating your vision ware, hearing aids, orthotics etc is a great idea while you still have the level of benefits that you are accustomed to.

Having a thorough dental check-up and cleaning then attending to any treatment recommendations will allow you to get your dental health in order before your level of benefits change. This is especially important for more complex, time-consuming treatments that may need to be scheduled in such a manner that allows you to maximize your full benefits now.

Some retirees transitioning to retirement benefits are often surprised to learn that their new level of coverage does not cover routine dental care or more complex procedures. And for patients hoping to purchase an individual commercial plan, they soon realize that it can be very expensive to buy a plan with the same level of coverage that they once had or that many procedures are not covered.

The lack of suitable dental benefits and a lower, limited income are the primary reasons why seniors do not maintain regular dental visits or neglect dental problems until they can no longer manage the discomfort. This is unfortunate since it is at a time in their lives when they may see their oral and overall health beginning to deteriorate.

Many of our patients are also entering their retirement years with all, if not most, of their own natural teeth. And, although how your teeth age depends largely on how well you have cared for them over the years, advancing age and associated health issues does put many retirees at risk for a number of oral health problems.

Ideally, we’d like to see you begin your retirement with a clean bill of oral health and help you avoid future complications and unnecessary costs. Unfortunately, we see our share of patients with issues that should have been dealt with years ago, let alone weeks before they retire.

Here’s to the best job you’ll ever have!

20-07-2015 2-46-08 PMOur recommendation is that you care for your teeth meticulously throughout your life. Your future self will thank you for brushing three times a day, flossing before bedtime, and reducing your meal frequencies and sugar/acid laden beverages. This requires virtually no cost at all and takes little effort. Visiting your dentist at least once per year as you do your vision, hearing and primary physician will allow you to get your teeth scaled and stay on top of problems before they grow into bigger, more complicated issues.

Consider including your dental health in your retirement arrangements and schedule a full dental examination well before beginning your new life. With careful planning, your teeth can stay healthy for the rest of your life.

We’ll give you an honest assessment of the present condition of your teeth so that you can make an informed decision moving forward. And here’s to a happy, well-deserved retirement. We hope it will be the best job you’ve ever had!

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Happy Retirement,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
http://www.yoursmiledentalcare.com
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533

 

 

 

Use It or Lose It

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