Disclaimer - Not my teeth - someone else'sAnyone who has ever moved knows what a job it is to reestablish all of the relationships that are necessary to daily life. The church, the school, the gym, the doctor, the dentist, the shoe repair man, the list goes on and on. As an expat the burden is even greater because it's hard to compromise on the standards you want for yourself.
Recently, I decided I needed my teeth cleaned because it had been 18 months since my last cleaning. I had an amazing dentist in America with a fantastic staff. I loved visiting his office, so much so that the one thing I did when I was home in America was make sure I got my teeth cleaned there. My dentist's office was full of information about he and his wife being in the top 1% of cosmetic dentists. Everything was fantastic about that office from the wonderful friendly staff, to their expertise, right down to the terrific bird feeders out his window for me to watch.
So I asked friends I trusted for a terrific dentist recommendation in my Istanbul neighborhood, went and checked out the office beforehand and inquired about prices, looked around and was sufficiently impressed that it was both upscale and thoroughly modern to international standards. Today I went for my appointment.
The dentist didn't know that it had been 18 months since my last cleaning. He used those little dental mirrors to look at my teeth. "You don't need to be here. Your teeth don't need a cleaning. There is nothing to clean." he said. "It was nice to meet you."
I was completely flabbergasted. My dental hygienist back home wanted me in every four months. She wanted me to buy a WaterPik. She wanted me to buy tools that would stimulate my gums. She said without quarterly cleanings and daily tools my teeth would really suffer. Now they guy is telling me after 18 months of benign neglect they look fine?
This appointment was a perfect example why America consistently runs up medical bills that outpace the world without better outcomes to show for it. France spends a mere 11% of GDP on health care. America is at an unsustainable 16%, predicted to hit 19.5% in five years. For all the money we spend, we are 42nd in the world in life expectancy. We are the only industrialized, first-world nation without health care for citizens and we routinely leave 50 million of our fellow citizens uninsured. Yet, we spend all this money and for what?
Why do we keep doing what we're doing in America? Overtreating? Each year that we don't fix this pointless spending, other nations get to invest that money on something else. The 5% difference in what we spend on health care and someone else doesn't spend on health care then gets compounded every year. Their investments in their countries build and make all kinds of exciting projects possible.