After eight years of oral infections, abscesses and unbearable pain, Greg Madore was moments from undergoing a dental procedure that would change his life, before finding out his nightmare was far from over.
“I was in the waiting room getting all the stuff done and the woman came and asked me, ‘Who do you have coverage with?'” Madore said. “I explained to them that I don’t have coverage. I’m just a single dad working through a temp agency.”
Madore falls in the middle of an unfortunate situation.
He works full-time and in doing so is ineligible for social assistance, though he’s without medical and dental coverage through his employer.
He was under the impression that the surgery to remove his teeth and replace them with dentures would be covered by the Department of Community Services.
When he was told that he wasn’t eligible, that meant the only way to move forward with the procedure was to pay a considerable sum out of his own pocket, which he wasn’t able to do.
“The program I was referred through was the same one that Social Assistance does,” he explained. “Then they told me, unfortunately, that I wasn’t covered under that and they said I had to pay $1,600 to get the teeth out or else they couldn’t help me.”
Madore says it’s been years since he made a trip to the doctor every time he experienced pain in his mouth.
With limited options, he worries that if he doesn’t receive treatment, his pain could contribute to a larger issue.
“I started self-medicating with pain killers and that led into its own problem,” Madore said.
“Most of the time I’ll go to sleep and I’ll wake up with a softball-sized infection,” he explained. “It’s been so bad a few times they’ve sent me to the emergency room to get penicillin through an IV just to get the process started quicker.”
In a statement the Department of Community Services said:
“Emergency dental care is available through the Department of Community Services to those individuals who meet the financial eligibility requirements of the Employment Supports and Income Assistance (ESIA) program. Persons living on lower incomes can apply for assistance with their dental needs and if eligible, they will receive assistance through the ESIA program. For those individuals who do not qualify for this program, there are often dental services available at reduced costs such as those offered at the Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry clinic or dentists in the local area who may be able to help by providing dental services at a reduced cost.”
Madore expects there are others who have similar problems, whether it’s dental or medical health issues going untreated.
He’d like to see something bridge the gap for those ineligible for Social Assistance benefits and without the luxury of coverage.
“The way their system is right now, it just doesn’t seem right,” Madore said. “I just think I’m being punished because I’m working.”