Buying Toothpaste Versus Buying Health Care

A trip to the local CVS store to buy toothpaste today was instructive of how differently we approach the cost of healthcare.

Since I do not have toothpaste insurance, this shopping trip was on my dime. So with that in mind, I found the aisle marked Dental Care. As I navigated through the confusing and complicated world of toothpaste, I started at the top of the shelf – Wow what a selection! A few of the brands were familiar, probably due to toothpaste commercials  viewed throughout the years. One 6 oz product was $7.45 but it promised sparkling white teeth, winning smile and good breath for hours. Others, same 6 oz size, were lower in price, averaging $2.50 to $4.50 for  6 oz supply.

On the very bottom shelf, towards the end of the toothpaste area, was a 6 oz toothpaste marked at 99 cents. Sensing that at such a low price, this must be an inferior product I compared the active ingredients,. All brands had one in common: sodium fluoride at 0.24%.  Each brand noted that sodium fluoride as “anticavity toothpaste.”

Further scrutiny brought added comfort that the lowest priced product was probably the best buy. “Value Pack, 30% more product on sizes up to 4.6 oz” , and there was a note that the product was “ADA Accepted – American Dental Association”.  But what cinched the deal was the printed representation that the product “cleans, freshens and protects”, all for 99 cents.

With local sales tax, AIM toothpaste cost  $1.08 versus  $4.86 for Colgate, an astounding 77% savings. Taxes were only 8 cents compared to 36 cents for Colgate, an even more astounding savings of 450% in taxes.

If I had toothpaste insurance with a low co-pay, I would probably have choosen Colgate.