There are few things more humbling than going to the dentist. After all, you’re giving another person complete control over the health and maintenance of your mouth each time you go in for a checkup. You can expect this discomfort to last for at least 30 minutes or so, but this becomes more anxiety-inducing when you find out you need expensive dental procedures to fix a major problem.
Even though a home burglary happens every 13 seconds throughout the country, few people would expect their dentist to rob them during a routine visit. But this was exactly the case whenever a patient visited the office of Dr. Richard Schott.
Also known as Nate, the former dentist was able to con almost $1 million from insurance companies alone.
Reports claim that Schott was also able to groom his employees into committing these falsifications between the years of 2013 and 2018. But even though slip and fall accidents result in more than $70 billion in medical claims each year, Schott set his sights on his vulnerable patients instead. According to the Daily News Journal, Schott continued to cheat his patients even after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began looking into his practice.
After pleading guilty to the conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, Schott has officially been ordered by a federal judge to forfeit the $932,839 he collected from insurance companies.
Unfortunately, these costs do not include restitution for the patients whom he swindled.
In one particularly damaging case, Schott removed all the teeth in Vessie Moore before installing dental implants that were placed incorrectly. After more than 20 visits to Schott’s practice, Moore suffered from her dentures falling out and causing nerve problems.
Now, the patient is toothless. After paying Schott more than $14,000 to “correct” her oral health issues, she doesn’t even have the funds to afford dentures.
“It makes me feel like I’m less than human,” Moore explains. “I can’t even get affordable dentures. … I can’t live. I can’t eat. I can’t do nothing.”
After filing a lawsuit against Schott on her own, Moore’s case was thrown out when she failed to file the paperwork correctly. She plans to persist with the help of an attorney.
Other patients in his practice have suffered from similar schemes. In another case, Jeff Patton was charged an additional $3,00 for dental crowns. This was more than double the quote that Schott gave him initially.
Schott was able to get away with these crimes by convincing his employees to cover for his schemes. After calling his office six times, Patton was simply told by Schott’s employees that the issue was with the credit card company, not their office. However, the credit card company said the opposite.
In the end, Patton was only able to get the charges dismissed with the help of a local attorney. But others, like Moore, were not so lucky.
Countless adults living on Medicaid are already struggling with their dental costs, especially if they experience a major health issue. After the state of Pennsylvania cut Medicare plans, citizens living in the area are unable to receive increasingly common procedures like root canals. While basic oral care can stop plaque from forming into tartar within 24 to 72 hours, complications with oral health must be dealt with by a professional.
But Medicare won’t help. Under the new Medicare guidelines, dental coverage only encompasses cleanings, X-rays, fillings, and extractions. Everything else must be paid out of pocket or the citizen must file a benefit limit exception (BLE) with her plan provider.
According to the dean of Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry, Amid Ismail, these waivers are rejected more than 95% of the time.
“Ideally, they should reinstitute adult Medicaid because it increases the chance of people on Medicaid to get jobs, to look better, have a better quality of life because if they do not have teeth they cannot really work,” Ismail explains.
This echoes the similar issues faced by Moore as a result of Schott’s shoddy work.
For now, patients of Schott are encouraged to voice their complaints with their local law enforcement. Schott is expected to go to back to trial on June 7, where he faces up to 10 years of jail time for his crimes.