CHICAGO (CBS) – Michael Johnson was not happy after finding additional charges on his son’s dental bill.
The charges were a “behavior management” charge for Johnson’s 10-year-old son, who has autism. As CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey reported on Tuesday, Johnson said he refused to pay him.
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“He has a lot of sensory issues,” Johnson said of his son, Wesley. “They say he never liked being on his back.”
Wesley, 10, has special needs and has been diagnosed with autism. His therapist accompanied him to what they thought was a fairly routine dentist appointment in November.
“There was nothing that raised a flag until Bill,” Johnson said. “There was a behavior management fee of $ 75, which was the first time we saw this.”
Johnson said he had taken Wesley to the pediatric dentist in Naperville for years.
And when asked about the charge, Johnson said: “She said it was because he needed more help. It took a little longer, so the appointment got behind you so they applied these charges. ”
Johnson’s insurance provider would not cover the costs, and he said that looked like a form of discrimination.
“To get the supplement, it’s just frustrating,” Johnson said. “It seems like one more cost to have a child with special needs.
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So what’s the problem ?
Dr Ian Marion of the University of Illinois at the Chicago School of Dentistry said, “This is something we know about and talk about quite regularly.
Marion said it was a billing code accessible to any dentist who spends their allotted time with a patient. And unfortunately it is a code that is not reimbursed by most insurers.
“Ideally, this expense would be spent on additional staff and physician time,” Marion said.
But Dr Marion said unlike Wesley’s case, the best practice is to explain the charges before the appointment if possible – and certainly before the bill is sent.
“We know people don’t like receiving surprise bills, so being able to talk to them about what can happen on a date would always be a good idea,” said Marion.
Dr Marion said many dentists are advocating for more insurance plans covering these costs.
We reached out to the dentist who treated Wesley to comment on the decision, but on Tuesday there was no response.
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Wesley’s dad says they’re going to keep fighting the charges.