Archive for May, 2010

I’ve been on business travel the past four weeks and I’m really tired.   Sure staying at four star hotels, eating at the finest restaurants and drinking the best wines is fun but it does get tiring and quite honestly lame.  I’m at that point now where I need a break but I don’t think it will come.  I will be traveling again next week and quite possibly the next three weeks.

I also just finished my second semester of MBA school and I’m not sure if I’ll return in the fall at this point.   With all the business travel and the expected upswing in the volume of business activity I’m expected to take care of I’m not sure that I can give the courses any focus.  Besides, most of the professors are academic isolationists that don’t know a damn thing about business.

As for personal finance quips, I haven’t had the chance to write up too many posts but I do have many stories to tell about the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen.   I was having dinner in downtown Naperville not too long ago and the place was packed and happening.   I was having dinner in downtown San Diego and the place was dead.   The airport in Chicago often feels like a ghost town while the one in San Diego is happening and jam packed.   I don’t get it.

So I went to the dentist again to get my teeth cleaned and I got a big bill which made me wonder.  Before I get into the big bill, let me give you a little bit of background.   Growing up as a kid I rarely went to the dentist and the only time I recall visiting a dentist was around 18 or 19 years of age when I had a really bad tooth ache at the back of my mouth.   The dentist checked out all my teeth and said he was surprised I didn’t have any cavities but determined that my tooth ache was a wisdom tooth coming out and impacting one of my other teeth.  He said I would eventually need to get them (wisdom teeth) removed but if I could tolerate the pain for a while it could go away.    The dentist said to me that there were two kinds of people (referring to teeth), those that get cavities, fillings and root canals but get to keep their teeth till they die and those that don’t get cavities but eventually lose their teeth to gum disease.

Flash forward 8 years and I began making regular dental visits with the first appointment being to remove four wisdom teeth.   Ever since that time I have been visiting the same dentist and dental hygienist for all those years and I’ve lately become suspicious of some of their business practices.   As insurance companies have negotiated and tightened down rates for regular treatments, my dentists seems to have migrated to more “ancillary” services to make up revenue (I presume).

For the past few years, the dentist tried to get me to buy invisiline braces.   I have only ONE tooth that is slightly misaligned and the dentist thought it would be a good idea to spend $3,000 to get it fixed.  I politely declined and let it go.  Evidently the business profit for braces must have plateaued because now he’s moved on to some periodontal trays which supposedly “clean and kill” bacteria off my teeth.   Guess how much the treatment costs?  Yeah, about $3,000.

It seems every ancillary service at the dentist runs about 3k and I find that a remarkable coincidence.   The dentist and hygienist did a great job in convincing me that I needed to have the trays to kill all that bacteria that was supposedly hurting my gums.   I nearly signed up for the process when the dentist’s office manager gave me a disclaimer form.  The form had statements like, “dentist is not a periodontist surgeon or expert”   and “treatment success varies from patient to patient” and “no guarantee or results from treatment” so I immediately told the dentist that I would speak to my insurance company to find out how much they would cover before I signed up for the treatment.

In addition, the dental hygienist suggested that I needed to have scaling done (again) which coincidentally matched the time frame the health insurance covered (every three years).   So I’m beginning to think I may be undergoing unnecessary procedures to keep this guy in business and that’s the problem.  The dentist is running a business complete with receptionists, accounts payable, accounts receivable, etc and I don’t fault him for it except that it is now looking more and more like a scam and I’m losing trust.

I won’t be surprised to see a new product line in two to three years and I’ll be sure to write about that when it happens.