Approximately 4 million Americans wear dental braces, a number that has quadrupled since the 1960s. With teenagers making up 80% of current braces-wearers, many parents are left wondering how to pay for braces that have become such a staple of American life.
How much do braces cost for kids?
Braces cost roughly $3,000 to $7,000 on average – the higher number applying to more sophisticated or subtle options such as porcelain braces or Invisalign.
That’s no small sum when it comes in addition to all the other costs associated with taking care of your kids and your own medical expenses.
The ideal scenario, of course, would be for the cost of the braces to be covered by dental insurance, but unfortunately this option is not available to everyone.
For one thing, approximately 108 million U.S. adults (almost half) don’t have dental insurance. Even if you do have dental insurance, many plans cover only check-ups and necessary procedures like filling cavities, not orthodontia. If you have dental insurance, make sure you’re aware of the coverage details before making any plans.
If your dental insurance does cover the cost of braces, odds are it will only pay for a portion of the costs. Often this is around 50% of the total cost.
While this still leaves you on the hook for the remainder, having half of the cost paid for can still be a big difference-maker and may be a deciding factor in going forward with paying for braces.
Flexible Spending Accounts
If you don’t have dental insurance but do have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) from your employer, this money can serve as a great option for paying for braces. As the money put into an FSA is not subject to income tax, you will have more money to put towards orthodontia than if you were to pay for the procedure out of pocket.
This can be a particularly appealing option if you do have dental insurance that’s not paying the entire cost of braces as the money in an FSA can be used for deductibles and co-pays as well.
Many dentists and orthodontists will offer certain discounts. Some procedures can be done at a dental school or dental society at a discounted rate. While it may seem unsettling to trust this procedure to a student, this work is generally done under the supervision of a licensed orthodontist.
Alternately, some orthodontists offer discounts as incentives for those who pay the entire bill up-front, though this may not be an option for everyone.
Financing and Payment Plans
A common option for how to pay for braces is financing. This can be done a number of different ways.
- Credit Cards: One option is to pay via credit card, and pay it off through your normal credit card payments. This can be particularly attractive if the orthodontist’s office offers the aforementioned discounted price for paying up-front as, as they will have received their payment right away.
- Payment Plans: Many orthodontists will offer payment plans that allow you to pay off the cost in regular installments. Be sure to compare the interest rates of the orthodontist’s payment plans against the interest rate of your credit card to find which is most advantageous.
- A Personal Loan: Health care financing is one of many common reasons to get a personal loan. A personal loan from Discover can be a way to pay off the costs of braces immediately at a possibly discounted rate while avoiding the high interest rates that could be associated with carrying revolving debt on your credit card.
Reasons to Smile
Ultimately there’s no one set answer for how to pay for braces, it depends on your own financial circumstances and the details of your insurance coverage. There’s a lot of options available, and each should be investigated closely before making any decisions. You’re sure to find an option for paying for braces that’s best for you – and that should give you plenty of reasons to smile.