If you’re a young professional moving to a new city, then you know just how exhausting the endeavor can be. You need to find a place to live. Move. Accustom yourself to your new surroundings (find your nearest drug store, grocery store, etc.). Plan your commute to and from work. Buy a transit pass or a car. It’s incredibly tiring, and the entire process had me push aside all other tasks that were not immediately necessary. And one of those tasks I regret pushing off — an “adulting” must-do that really should have been higher on my priority list — was finding a new doctor and a new dentist.
When I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast at the end of the summer, last year, I knew that I’d need to find new healthcare providers on my existing healthcare plan. And I knew the task seemed daunting, at least to me. So, I made sure to schedule a checkup with both my doctor and my dentist before I left the East Coast so that I’d have a full six months to complete this task. But, after the crazy first weeks of moving and settling in and juggling a new job, I procrastinated on finding a doctor and a dentist. I procrastinated for nine months.
Now, it’s not a huge deal to delay your six-month checkup at the dentist. Especially when you’re young…right? I certainly wasn’t worried, and sure enough, my teeth looked great! I’m an adult who knows how to brush her teeth. What I didn’t know, though, is that the stress of living by myself, on the opposite coast from my family, had caused me to begin clenching my jaw at night. I was grinding my teeth together, and my tongue showed clear imprints of my teeth as a result. This further explained the jaw pain I had been experiencing over the previous few weeks.
I hadn’t thought much of the pain, as it had been minimal and often faded within a few hours of waking up. But the fact that I was experiencing jaw pain was a signal to the dentist that I needed a nightguard — a custom-made mold that prevents your teeth from grinding against one another if you clench your jaw at night — as soon as possible.
If I had remembered to schedule my appointment earlier, I could have avoided needing a nightguard altogether. Since I had only recently begun experiencing jaw pain, if my appointment had been scheduled 3-4 months prior, as it should have been, my dentist would have been able to recommend jaw exercises for me to try, first, before insisting that I buy a nightguard. But I never even had the opportunity to try out the jaw exercises that my dentist knew of. In fact, the same day that I went to the dentist for my checkup, I wound up creating a mold of my teeth and sending it off to a lab to make a custom nightguard for me.
Ultimately, this wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that the majority of dental insurances in America don’t cover the cost of a nightguard. So, even after my insurance covered 10% of the cost of my required nightguard, I had to pay $750 out of pocket! For someone who’s still paying off student loans, $750 is not a small amount of money. Not to mention that it could have been avoided if I’d only gone to the dentist earlier and been made aware of this issue before it progressed to such a severe stage.
I’m beating myself up about this mistake, but I want to make sure that you don’t make a similar error. I promise, the time it takes to make a simple call to your insurance company is worth it. Plus, I found that the process of finding new healthcare providers was a lot easier than I had anticipated. Just place a quick call to your insurance company (the phone number can be found on the back of your insurance card) and ask them to send you a list of doctors or dentists that are covered within a certain radius of your zip code. Chances are, if you’re moving as far away from home as I am, the list isn’t too extensive. Then spend an hour or two Googling the different practices and reading reviews before giving them a call to make your appointment. It’s a process that takes *at most* 2-3 hours — I promise. And you can split it up, too, which means you don’t need to tackle this entire process all at once.
I guarantee that 2-3 hours of your time is better than spending $750. Or more! This applies to other “adulting” tasks that I know other post-grads procrastinate on. Taxes. Figuring out your 401(k). Finding the best stocks/bonds/funds to invest your 401(k) money in. Automating your paycheck to go to your savings account versus your checking account. The list goes on, but I’m encouraging you to give your insurance company a call in the next 30 days. Just start the process, if you haven’t already. Hopefully, my story will give you the push you need to prioritize these tasks instead of procrastinating on them.
Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.
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