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Braces Treatment Contracts Explained – Staged Contracts

In this edition of the Friday Focus, Dr. O El-Hillal from iSmiles Orthodontics, your Irvine Orthodontist, discusses the hidden fees that can be buried in “Staged Braces Treatment Contracts. . .and why they should be avoided.

There’s no doubt, unless you know up front what to look for, contracts can be confusing. Orthodontic practices have many options when it comes to financial contracts for a treatment plan. Some offices take an a la carte approach by dividing up the treatment costs into different “stages”, not unlike a menu from a steakhouse. Of course, this approach is perfectly legal, making it important to always ask the right questions before signing on the dotted line.

So, what goes into a staged braces treatment contract? In lieu of an all-inclusive, lump sum fee (that covers appointments and appliances from start to finish), staged contracts break out treatment into separate fees that pretty much mirror how orthodontic insurances reimburse orthodontic offices.

The staged contract can include separate fees for:

  • Initial records required for creating the treatment plan, such as X-rays, digital images, photographs;
  • Bonding fees, when the braces are installed;
  • Appointments for actual treatment;
  • Removing the braces, and
  • Retainer fees.

Consumers must evaluate whether they are being separately billed for each component in a staged contract, or one lump sum that covers everything.

If you don’t understand what’s involved It can be very easy for a practice to word their fee structure to make you think an item is included. You may be told that the braces treatment plan costs “X” dollars, only to find out in the retainers are not covered.

Clever advertising could list a competitive fee for a specific type of braces at $3000 or $4000 to get a potential patient in the door, and then charge for retainers on top of that.

iSmiles Orthodontics never uses staged contracts that tack separate fees into the treatment plan. Instead, we use lump sum or one-fee contracts based on results. Our patients always know, up front, what a treatment plan is going to cost, and offer a variety of payment plans to make payments affordable and within budget.

Ousama El-Hillal
Ousama El-Hillal, referred to as Dr. O by patients, staff and friends, is an Orthodontist and co-owner of iSmiles Orthodontics. iSmiles Orthododontics is leading provider of the Damon System and Invisalign in Irvine.

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