Can you say “dentista?”
Increasingly expensive dental care costs are forcing seniors to bite down hard—and head to Mexico to preserve their pearly whites, the Associated Press reports.
Nearly 70 percent of seniors do not have dental insurance, according to a 2013 Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Oral Health America. Medicare does not cover dental care, and many employers do not offer post-retirement health benefits. You can get dental coverage through the Affordable Care Act, but only if you purchase general health coverage first. (Many seniors already have that coverage.)
Even with coverage, crowns, bridgework, implants and dental surgery can easily exceed the annual limit. As a result, seniors who need extensive dental work may have limited options and could face out-of-pocket costs running into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars; 23 percent of seniors in the Oral Health America survey said they have not seen a dental provider in five years.
Just as people traveled to Canada to buy their prescription drugs at lower cost or traveling the world for other medical services and procedures, more Americans are now flocking to places like Los Algodones, Mexico for dental care. Dental care in Mexico is much cheaper, thanks to lower labor costs and fewer regulatory requirements — factors that you should keep in mind before heading south of the border. The dentists in Mexico maintain that they may not have as much education as their American counterparts, but they spend more time practicing clinical work.
It’s not just people who live in border cities like El Paso, Texas crossing the border to take care of their teeth. The Associated Press reports that shuttle services exist to take dental patients from the Phoenix area to Los Algodones, a 200-mile trip.
Before you book a trip, though, remember that should something go wrong you may not have the same legal recourse as in the U.S., and the dentists may use different types of equipment--so do your research first.
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At an event in Kentucky to discuss tax reform, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted Monday that Congress will raise the debt ceiling by late next month, in time for the U.S. to avoid a default that could roil the global economy and markets.
The key quotes, per Roll Call:
McConnell: "There is zero chance — no chance — we won't raise the debt ceiling. No chance. America's not going to default. And we'll get the job done in conjunction with the secretary of the Treasury."
Mnuchin: “We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed. I think that everybody understands this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democrat issue. We need to be able to pay our debts. This is about having a clean debt ceiling so that we can maintain the best credit, the reserve currency, and be focused on what we should be focusing on — so many other really important issues for the economy.”
Mnuchin reiterated his “strong preference” for a “clean” increase to the debt limit — one without other policy proposals or spending cuts attached to it — but some House conservatives continue to press for such cuts.
Bonus McConnell quote on what tax breaks might be eliminated in tax reform: “I think there are only two things that the American people think are actually in the Constitution: The charitable deduction and the home mortgage interest deduction. So, if you’re worried about those two, you can breathe easy. For all the rest of you, there’s no point in doing tax reform unless we look at all of these preferences, and carried interest would be among them.”
In an interview with USA Today, Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles said the agency is bumping up against federally mandated salary and overtime caps in executing its mission to protect the president and his family.
USA Today’s Kevin Johnson notes that 42 people in the Trump administration have Secret Service protection, including 18 of the president’s family members. Under President Obama, 31 people had such protection.
“The compensation crunch is so serious that the director has begun discussions with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump's first term,” Johnson reported.
In a statement, Alles said the agency has the funding it needs for the rest of the fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, but estimated that 1,100 employees run into statutory pay caps as a result of overtime work during this calendar year.
“This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current Administration’s protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo," Alles said in the statement.
Despite all the thorny questions swirling around President Trump's nascent tax reform plan, 29 of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg in a monthly poll said they expect Congress to cut taxes by November of next year.
The hitch: The economists don’t expect the cuts will help the economy much. The median projection of a larger group of 71 economists is for 2018 growth of 2.3 percent, up only slightly from 2.1 percent this year — and by 2019, the economists see growth slipping back to 2 percent.