When your dental insurer sends you a "free" Internet of Shit toothbrush


just find the comedy of errors for tractor software (attractions)


Orders of Magnitude’ is an album by Information Society.

I’m giving myself half-credit on that one…


At the risk of going off the rails, I have been an expatriate in Europe long enough to see that claim for what it is: selfishness. But that has more to do with how health insurance is seen as a personal thing and not as a way to have a community take responsibility for health.

Which may be an interesting tangent to go off on, in that it may be a good thing that this is being tried in the USA (the shitty toothbrush), so that Europeans can learn from Americans’ mistakes before they implement their overly complex solution that supposedly protects privacy (but really doesn’t).


I don’t think my dentist would ever give me a toothbrush, but because they’re an NHS dentist I don’t get charged for stuff.
I’ll take a free* filling over a free toothbrush.

(*free at the point of treatment, so I pay for it through taxes, although less than I would if I was buying insurance)


My dentist gives me a loot bag every visit, including a plain old dumb toothbrush, samples of toothpaste, floss, chapstick…


Yeah but, at my age (well, ever, really) twice a day just isn’t reasonable.


I’m not going to take a ‘hit for the team’. If you want to pay for the lazy and self-destructive side of my family - well, by all means, help yourself - but I’d rather they got off their ass and quit insisting on lab tests for imaginary excuses.

If you’re an expatriate, then I’d say you don’t have a dog in the fight.


Yeah, I have been out of the American health insurance game for some time now, the last insurance I had was as a soldier. It’s also part of why I am staying over here, because Germany has a much, much better health care system than any I could get in the USA. I think the biggest part is that health care here is thought of as a pool (one of us is going to get sick so let’s pool the cost) instead of as a bet (I’m betting that I am going to get sick, but if I don’t get sick you can keep my premium).

And health care is more than just cancer exams or emergency room stuff. It’s a whole legal framework that deals as much in preventing illness as it is about providing for care when you do get sick or injured.

So yeah, my dog in this fight is that EU insurers do look at the US insurers, so what happens with this toothbrush thingy could come over here, or it could remain another element of where Europeans make fun of Americans and their lack of privacy.


I think that’s begging the question. It may well be where we’re going if data is as valuable as tech investors have been betting, but that bet is far from settled.

Suppose I invented a new kind of toilet paper that cost $45 per roll, and captured every possible bit of information about anyone who wiped their ass with it. Is it obvious that would make me rich? In the current climate, perhaps I could get speculators to fund me for years while I gave away the product for free. But where would the money ultimately come from?

One reason mass data is valuable is for market research. If you know the exact optimum size of a bottle of shampoo, you can be more profitable than other shampoo manufacturers, so the data to do that research is worth money. But not a ton of money, and it’s also a one-off, because once the shampoo industry has its answer, it doesn’t need to pay for your data again. You can do the same deal for a bunch of industries, and if you have a really good dataset I’m sure you could retire on the proceeds. But we’re not talking rule-the-world money; you wouldn’t be so rich that Exxon and Citibank would bow to you, or powerful enough to force everyone to accept a surveillance dystopia.

Having a massive dataset also allows you to answer specific questions, like “who lives at 123 West Bestchest Avenue, and how much money is in their bank account”. You can probably make $10 a pop answering questions like that, which is certainly valuable. But that sort of data is much more expensive to get in the first place. It takes active work to keep it viably fresh – you need to be spending real money on a service that millions of people use every day, and even if the service is just a website that’s not cheap. Plus, you’re now talking about the kind of data that is heavily regulated, so you’re dodging non-trivial civil and criminal liability icebergs.

Either way, when you zoom out to the macro level, there is a pretty obvious fundamental limit at work. You can only make money from data by optimising some other, real activity – making a furniture company 0.1% more profitable or whatever – so data brokerage can never be a large part of the economy. By extension, the interests of data-hoarders will never dominate over the interests of people and businesses who actually make and do stuff.

(That was a bit of a tangent; I think the toothbrush thing is more a story of insurance fuckery than a story of evil “free” stuff anyway)


“…this toothbrush thingy could come over here.”

Noooo! Okay, if it does, please, please let some comedy show totally humiliate it’s inventors.

For me, skipping health insurance really isn’t a gamble. Not only do I know that I WILL lose, I know WHEN! I know from my family history that it’s impossible to escape death by massive syncope/heart attack at the same age that it hits every member of my family. As for preventive medicine, all I can do is make sure I don’t hasten its arrival, so just diet & exercise. We’re the group that screws up the statistics on statins by insisting on dying anyway.

I know from experience that if you tell the emergency room staff that you’ll be paying cash for your stitches, their eyes get real big and they usher you into the ‘champagne room’ and give you a big, fat discount.

The rest of America should be glad I’m skipping Obamacare. At my income, they’d be subsidizing ME, not the other way around. I just happen to fall into a group that gets nothing from health insurance and takes nothing away.


God I miss those days. Don’t ever get cancer, and if you do make sure it’s something they can cut out without you needing anything further (like a minor skin carcinoma, those are ok). The best outcome is you die, the worst outcome is everything in your life will forever revolve around insurance and you can’t do anything about it because they control access to the meds that keep you living.


Dental Insurance seems to never be worth the cost, even when there is work to do. I thought I would be crafty and buy it on the individual market when I knew I had some work to do. I didn’t read the fine print enough to realize that even though my work was fully covered they would only pay about 15% of the actual cost. Mostly because they don’t pay reasonable amounts so I had to make up the difference. As far as I can tell the only reason dental insurance exists is so that high end employers can offer a benefit to look competitive.

But it has always annoyed me that people with dental insurance are getting the routine care at a rate much below the cash rates that I could negotiate. It seems like there should be a program like goodrx that just gives access to negotiated rates without any actual insurance. Does this exist?


At my last company, they gave a discount for “correct” BMI, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, etc. For those of us who “flunked” one or more, we got harassing calls to get with a team of health coaches for diet and exercise. I finally just blocked their number.


My landline is $10/month (CAD) for two years, at which point it will go up to $15, including voicemail and a couple of other stupid things (like call waiting). My cellphone, which my work pays for, and which I only use when I travel for work (no cell reception at home), is $80/month, and I supplied my own phone…


I love this song. And I recently found the sound bite 'Right here, right now" is Angela Bassett in Strange Days.


We joined a health share instead of paying for health insurance. So far it seems to work better than health insurance for a lot less money, and there’s none of this nonsense with “networks.” I trust the health share to pay for things like broken bones and pneumonia. If one of us gets really sick, we will leave the country.




quite like that film


OTish, but you bought your dumb TV at the right moment.

We had to replace our 10 year old one last autumn. Could not find a dumb one for love nor money. So now it complains at me that it can’t find the network, and would very much like the WiFi password please. It’s like when a roommate brings home a new FWB. It’s cool my friend chooses to f*ck someone but give them our WiFi access? Not without a credit report, background check, and massive cash deposit.


Yes, and no. Some dentists are starting to engage in concierge dentistry. I know our (likely to be former, but because they brought in a partner I hate, not because of their policies) offered a $200/year membership that included 2 cleanings, full annual imaging, up to 2 fillings and an up-front negotiated price list for basically everything else. At the same time we were using our regular dental insurance, I brought my grandmother (then on a Medicare Advantage plan, which has no dental provision) in for a replacement lower partial. It ran about $800, which is not bad for a dental appliance. Since I’d brought my grandmother in under that membership, we also had the option of an in-house payment plan for her major services (rather than care-credit or one of the Capital One products) but we didn’t use it.

It’s worth asking around the local, independent practices and comparison shopping. The chains will not offer any sort of negotiated plan, but the independents are starting to realize that employing someone to deal with the dental insurers is barely cost effective, and in urbia/suburbia, there’s enough competition.