My wife went to the dentist today – an honest dentist who shares a lot of interesting stories. One was about an elderly patient who brought in his more elderly mother for an exam. The woman was a few weeks out of bypass surgery and didn’t look like she was doing well and might not have much time left. They had gone to another dentist who recommended $35,000 worth of dental work. (It must have been same the diamond package Kayne West recently added to his lower teeth.)
Fortunately, my wife’s dentist did the minimum needed to make her comfortable and saved her enough money to buy a new Cadillac, if that’s what she wanted to do with the leftover money. Whereas the other dentist wanted to buy a new Cadillac for himself or perhaps the Ukrainian mistress he keeps in an apartment in Van Nuys. That’s how I see a person like that who tries to hose an elderly woman in the last stages of her life – he probably cheats on his wife too.
My wife’s dentist shared other stories about the methods dentists and doctors use to bill for money patients don’t owe per the contract of their insurance – if patients pay the bill great, if not and they complain, it’s wiped away like it should have been in the first place. That one really gets under my skin because we get those bills trying to trick us into paying what we don’t owe. It’s unethical. Yet, it happens. And I wonder who allows it to happen. It’s not some computer that thinks up a great idea to rip people off. Computers aren’t assembled evil and ready to program devious billing practices. It’s a human who thinks this stuff up and somehow finds a way to live with him or herself, along with the pile of money made from the deception.
All of this makes me wonder how ethical we are as a society. Every day I read stories about people skirting the edge of what’s legal and a gray area of almost being illegal, but justified as a billing error or clerical mistake or medical recommendation. This isn’t a robbery of a 7/11 or someone embezzling a million dollars. It’s not an obvious crime that shows up on a grainy video on the 11:00 p.m news. This is a different kind of robbery. It’s not glamorous. It’s not easy to detect. And yet, it feels like it’s happening more often and some justify its financial “cleverness” and ignore it unless by some miracle of detective work it’s exposed.
It’s modern-day grifting and the victim is our bank accounts and faith in others. One’s not so easy to recover.