Poverty and Dental & Vision Health Care

Saw this unfortunate article in the Post about a young boy who died because his abscessed tooth was not removed and the bacteria got to his brain. What stopped me early in the article was “A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.” I had a molar extracted about 2 years ago and it cost me around about $70-$80, and I have health insurance.
Let me give you a little of my dental health history. I didn’t have any, any health insurance growing up and I had cavities. Every once in a while mom would drag me to the dentist and if it wasn’t about finding cavities, it was filling them, so each visit was expensive, and not often. It didn’t help that I hated brushing. A far as I know, mom never bothered with Medicare. Jump forward to undergrad, still no insurance, and the needing to remove a wisdom tooth. I waited for hours, and hours, and hours at the university teaching hospital. So long, that I swore then and there that when I got out into the real world I was going to have health insurance so I would never, ever, ever have to spend a full part of a day waiting. I did get it removed, but the student dentists nicked a neighboring tooth, taking off a chip. I can’t remember what I paid, or if I had to pay. The grad school I attended required students to have health insurance, so I got the cheapy non-dental only useful if you get hit by a bus insurance and used the campus health facilities. It was at the campus clinic I first heard the word “abscessed” in relation to my teeth. After borrowing $200 bucks from grandma (and learning never borrow money from grandma unless your next option is loan shark) I fixed another wisdom tooth problem, sans insurance.
Fast forward to now. I have a decent job and health insurance which I pay over $100 a month for individual coverage. If I had a family, dependents, it would be about $300 a month. My employer chips in for a significant portion of the premiums, which in total are $400 a month for an individual. I don’t have one of the extra dental or vision plans. Going to the dentist still costs me, just not as much. I swear I pay $40-$50 for cleaning but my plan says I’m supposed to be paying less. I’ll find out why there is a sizable difference my next visit. I also plan to get some new glasses this year. My health plan will save me with the eye exam but the frames and lenses will be cheaper if I go to an Americas Best or other like place. I expect to blow $200-$400 on a pair of glasses, mainly because of the lenses.
Last year, I chipped in to get my niece glasses. Medicare should have covered some part of her glasses, but because her mother, my sister, didn’t want to bother with whatever Medicare hoops needed, which the Post article talks about in relation to the young boy, I and my mom wound up paying for her glasses.
After much typing and deleting and typing and deleting, I’ve decided not to make a political argument out of it. As some of you know I identify myself as moderate conservative, and I know many of you, my readers and my friends are a diverse group of liberals, and this could get political in the comments section. So what I challenge you with is to avoid theory, if you have something to say, talk about your own experience, your reality of health care in America. And to comply with my screwy interpretation of HIPPA you may just use initials or fake initials to be somewhat anonymous. Not completely anon because I’ll start confusing one anon with another anon and that will just drive me nuts.