Paying for braces can be an overwhelming expense for working parents. Even if employees are eligible for dental and orthodontic coverage, copays for office visits can exceed annual plan limits. The average cost of braces ranges from $4,000 for clear aligners to as much as $10,000 for lingual braces. Treatment plans can be anywhere from six months to as long as 36 months, which can increase costs for other dental care. The average dental insurance coverage can vary greatly, therefore parents must carefully budget for braces.
How can dental plan administrators assist covered employees to manage paying for braces while taking full advantage of these valuable benefits? There are a number of ways that personnel can help employees pay for braces for dependents, even if the costs seem prohibitive. With some creative use of dental benefits, anyone can afford to help their children develop a healthy smile.
Discount Programs That Help Pay for Braces
There are a number of dental and orthodontic discount benefits that can be purchased cheaply by employees. Generally, they can reduce the cost of dental and braces by as much as 25 percent to 50 percent off the customary fees. Most of these plans can be combined with existing dental benefits to maximize savings for routine care, such as cleanings, X-rays and orthodontic adjustments. Many dentists also partner with orthodontists who provide a discount for direct referrals. This can cover an initial consultation as well as future costs.
Health Savings Arrangements for Orthodontic Care
It’s simple for any employee to start putting away money to pay for braces. Those who participate with high deductible health care plans are eligible for health savings arrangements (HSA). Pretax dollars can be allocated to orthodontic care. According to the Internal Revenue Service, an HSA is approved for “Treatment to alleviate dental disease include services of a dentist for procedures such as X-rays, fillings, braces, extractions, dentures, and other dental ailments.” When using the HSA to pay for braces, patients should also ask about discounts for paying in full instead of putting in a dental insurance claim, as many groups will offer as much as a 50 percent discount for self-paid care.
Dental Insurance Incentives and Benefits
If employees choose to use standard dental benefits to pay for orthodontic care and braces, they should coordinate this very carefully with their dentist and orthodontist in order to maximize savings and incentives. Utilizing an in-network provider may give you extra perks as a new patient seeking orthodontic care. Check on your dental plan for the specifics for your coverage. Multiple-family-member discounts and other perks may also be available. In some cases, if a patient needs corrective surgery before braces are to be installed, the health insurance can pick up a good amount of these fees too. It’s always a good idea to find out what types of X-rays will be needed—something that the dental insurance may or may not cover before braces go in.
Financing and Care Credit to Handle Expenses
At the very last resort, there may be opportunities to finance a portion of the orthodontic to make it easier to pay for braces. While depending on the plan, dental insurance can cover some of the costs for othrodontics, there may be additional expenses for ongoing care. Various health care financing programs can provide low-interest repayment plans to offset the costs of getting braces. Some clinics also offer their own interest-free payment plans.
It’s important to view orthodontics as a critical component to healthy teeth and gums, and not as an extra expense. As eligible employees take advantage of their dental benefits, they will be able to save money on their overall health, which provides added income for paying for beautiful smiles.