Braces Treatment Contracts Explained – Staged Contracts
In this edition of the Friday Focus, Dr. O, your Irvine Orthodontist from iSmiles Orthodontics, discusses the hidden fees within “Staged Braces Treatment Contracts” and why you should avoid them.
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? Instead of an all-inclusive, lump-sum fee (that covers appliances and appointments from beginning to end), staged contracts break the treatment into separate fees that mirror how insurance companies reimburse orthodontic offices.
The staged contract can include separate fees for:
- Initial records needed to develop 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.
Patients must evaluate whether they are being billed separately for each component or if one lump sum covers everything.
If you don’t understand what’s involved in the contract, it can be easy for a practice to cleverly word their fee structure to make you think the cost is inclusive of all elements. 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.
At iSmiles Orthodontics, we never use staged contracts that add separate fees into your treatment cost. Instead, our office uses a one-fee contract or lump sum based on your results. Our patients will always know how much their treatment will cost. We also offer various payment plans to ensure your treatment is affordable and within your budget.