I had a root canal last March. The dentist told me it would be painful for a week or two as the immediate injury and surgery healed. She also told me that if there was any pain after that to come back in and get it checked out. I left the dentist’s office after paying several fingers and at least one needed toe for the hour long procedure.
Six weeks ago, I had a pain flare-up. I took acetaminophen and ignored it until the pain receded. Two weeks ago, I had another flare in the tooth.
I made a call to the dentist and she had me come in. Once at the office, they took a couple of X-rays, poked and prodded and talked with me as to the types of pain and types of triggers for the pain. Right now she thinks that there is a side canal that might be the cause of the pain but she can’t tell until I come back on the same day as the pain flare up.
When I left the office, I pulled out my credit card to pay for the visit. The front desk worker shook her head and said that the entire bundle of care was included in the original payment for the root canal. Any follow-up for this tooth’s pain will be part of the bundle.
I did not realize that I was buying a bundle of care. It is a more patient friendly experience than the expected fee for service system where every visit drives a new payment. If I knew that I had an episode based bundle, I probably would have gone in on the first complication. I know that if there is another flare-up, I’ll go in as soon as I can clear time from work. My barrier will only by timing and not cost.
Episode based bundled payments may be more patient friendly as they remove a barrier from follow-up of minor to moderate complications compared to fee for service payment modalities.