New fees on dental bills during pandemic surprising patients

VIDEO: New fees on dental bills during pandemic surprising patients

LAKE NONA, Fla. — A Lake Nona parent claims her daughter’s dental bill just increased by hundreds of dollars after the dentist added a new infection control fee because of Covid-19.

“Do you feel trapped?” Action 9′s Todd Ulrich asked.

“Yes of course. Of course,” Graziella Sidarous replied.

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Sidarous signed a dental agreement, weeks before the pandemic, that covered braces for her daughter.

The agreement involved a monthly braces adjustment for two years.

But Sidarous​ says OBT Dental in South Orange County is adding extra fees.

“She told me it's $20 extra a month for the ADA regulations,” Sidarous said.

She said a manager told her the American Dental Association required virus protection equipment and that's what the $20 fee covered.

“How much would that cost you?” Ulrich asked.

“It's about $480 for two years,” Sidarous explained, which would be in addition to the cost of the contract.

Sidarous asked the manager what she could do if she couldn't afford that.

“You can wait until the pandemics over. It could be one year. It could be two,” Sidarous said she was told.

Ulrich contacted the Florida Dental Association about her complaint and others Action 9 received about dentists now adding infection control fees.

The association said regulations require enhanced protection for staff and patients, and since prices for personal protection equipment have skyrocketed, some dental practices need to bill their patients.

“There could be a little increase but I don't think it would be substantial. It shouldn't add more than 5 to 10 percent to the cost of their treatment,” said association president Dr. Rudy Liddell.

Dr. Liddell said patients already under contract should have some room to negotiate fees, and the increases should be temporary and reflect actual expenses.

“That's not a profit center, that's just a minimal cost passed onto the patients,” Dr. Liddell said.

Ulrich contacted OBT Dental and managers said the office is using upgraded equipment to protect patients and staff and equipment prices have increased 380%, so patients are charged extra for every visit.

The Florida Dental Association supports the ADA's efforts to have dental insurance cover most of the virus protection cost so many patients will not be impacted.

OBT Dental response:

"I understand that Ms Sidariuos is frustrated with this additional charge.

At this moment, in order to comply with suggested best practices, our office will now be using upgraded forms and increased amounts of personal protective equipment, or PPE, to protect patients and staff members from the transmission of COVID-19. Due to increased global demand and limited supply, the price of PPE has dramatically increased, more than 380%. Unfortunately, our practice can only absorb a portion of these costs; therefore, all patients are being charged a PPE fee associated with each visit. (Standard and biosafety protocols implemented by dental offices around the country, that have been approved by ADA).

We hope that Ms Sidarious will allow us to continue taking care of her daughter’s dental health under these difficult times."