Dummheit is word for dental requirement

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Point of View, by Nancy Overgaard

Last week, I had to go unexpectedly to the dentist with an alarmingly large and painful abscess that, overnight, had formed a sizeable welt on my gum tissue and caused the side of my face to puff up noticeably.

Nancy Overgaard

Nancy Overgaard

I was actually unsure if it was an abscess or a tumor. So, I am deeply grateful to my dentist, Dr. Stephen Schwartz, for working me in for an appointment despite his busy and complicated schedule. I am also deeply grateful for his competence in knowing exactly what was needed, and expertise in fixing it.

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I am not grateful to my legislators, Sen. Al Franken and Congressman Tim Walz, who thought it a great idea to require me, as part of Obamacare, to carry pediatric dental insurance. My pediatric dental cards stipulate plainly, “Only members under age 19 are eligible for benefits,” which did me absolutely no good in my dental emergency.

It was irritating when I purchased private health insurance to learn that the Affordable Care Act forces me to pay a premium for pediatric dental insurance, regardless of the fact I am 57 years old, have no children, declined government subsidies and accessed neither MNSure nor Obamacare. It was exasperating when pediatric dental cards arrived in the mail, followed by a dental insurance policy book, as though it was somehow a legitimate product.

It is also frustrating that, while my policy requires me to pay for pediatric dental care, it provides no dental coverage for me. So the abscess and root canal will be on me, despite the fact that I do have dental insurance, complete with cards in my name, just that it is pediatric.

I am so grateful to be able to get the dental care I need that I will be happy to pay for it. Even so, since I am required to pay for dental insurance, it would be nice if I could benefit from it. My good legislators did not think so.

Of the handful of German words I learned as a child, one comes to mind: dummheit. The word speaks for itself. If not, the Internet offers a range of English equivalents. Wikipedia is not helpful, for me, on dummheit since it is all in German. Wiktionary is short and to the point, offering a single translation: stupidity.

That is the meaning we figured out as children from contexts in which it was used. My favorite source is a page headed: “What’s the meaning of the German word Dummheit?” I dare not include the full list, as there are many and some are a bit harsh. Here are a few: density, witlessness, foolery, silly mistake, stupid thing to do. Among the harsher is a word my family would not have said, asinine.

It is sheer dummheit to require a person with no children to purchase pediatric dental care and to issue dental cards and a policy book for an insurance policy that covers no one, including the policy holder. I honestly might not mind paying for pediatric dental care if, by paying my premium, children who need dental care receive dental care. But the money was spent inanely printing and mailing dental cards and a policy book to a person with absolutely no use for them.

I fault Blue Cross Blue Shield and Delta Dental for going along with the ruse. I would think they would be embarrassed to comply with regulations that make them look as outlandish as the politicians who voted for them. Why not push back and insist, for the sake of their customers and their reputations, that the new regulations conform to their customarily high standards of professionalism? To not do so is certain to diminish respect for both companies and erode customer satisfaction and loyalty.

I hope that, come November, voters will remember that Congressman Tim Walz and Sen. Al Franken championed this legislation and hold them accountable. Should we not expect, and demand, the same level of professionalism from our elected officials as we receive from professionals in our community?

Both lawmakers, in separate contexts, have suggested there is little they can do now about the faulty legislation other than hope the political fallout will not be too bad. I hope the fallout at the polls will be seismic enough to unseat both, since letters and calls of frustration seem not even to register on their political Richter scales.

The least they could do is put forth a little effort to try to amend the most ridiculous flaws in the bill. The best they can do is to leave their offices to others who will. There are plenty of highly qualified and competent Republican candidates to choose from for all political offices and I hope you will give them serious consideration for your sake and for mine.


Albert Lea resident Nancy Overgaard is a member of the Freeborn County Republican Party.