For many kids, braces are as much a part of adolescence as pimples and teen angst, but, unlike most other childhood rites of passage, this one does not come for free.
A full course of braces can cost anything between $4,500 up to $12,000, depending on a number of factors, including the extent of the problem, the type of braces needed and the specific orthodontist used. Standard metal braces are the cheapest, starting at around $4,500 for basic treatment, while extensive treatment using a clear system like Invisalign will set you back up to $9,000.
For many parents, hearing that their child needs braces is a crushing blow to the family finances. While there’s no denying they are expensive, there are a few things you can do to keep your out of pocket costs as low as possible when your child needs orthodontic treatment or braces.
Private health insurance – your real life tooth fairy
If you already have private health insurance for your family you may be able to claim back some of the costs of getting braces, depending on your level of cover. If you already know that your child is likely to need braces in the future, shopping around early can really pay off and will mean you won’t have to endure waiting periods before you can claim.
Braces fall into the orthodontic category for health insurers. Orthodontic cover is an optional extra on most policies so it’s not usually included automatically. When you are covered, the cost of your child’s braces will be divided between you and your health fund. The insurer will pay a percentage of the total amount of the treatment up to a predefined limit.
There are huge variations between different funds, so doing your homework is always advised. For example, Medibank Private gives members 85% of their costs back up to $1000 a year on their Top Extras Cover for Orthodontic treatment. Other funds may only offer up to $600, or nothing at all.
Find an affordable dentist
If you don’t have a spare few grand handy to pay for braces upfront, look for a dentist that offers a flexible payment plan. There are plenty of orthodontists in and around Brisbane who will let you pay in monthly or fortnightly instalments and spread the cost of your child’s braces over a longer period of time.
Here are a few other ways you can save money on your orthodontist:
- Find a practitioner who offers interest free payment plans
- Look for an orthodontist with a HICAPS terminal so you can claim from your health fund at the point of payment
- Go out of the city centre and find a dentist who is located out of town. Brisbane inner city dentists are often more expensive than regionally based ones
- Find a dentist who is approved by your health fund – some health funds like HCF and BUPA offer extra rebates when you use their preferred practitioners.
Because you will be splitting the cost of your child’s treatment with your health insurance provider, finding an affordable orthodontist will make a huge difference to your overall out of pocket expenses. Choosewell is a free, online comparison service supported by experienced consultants who can discuss your options by phone. You can compare different plans side-by-side and see what which plan works for your family needs (and budget).
Getting the best cover on your health insurance, choosing the right dentist and researching the options to find the most cost effective braces can all help take the sting out of your child’s orthodontic treatment and give the whole family something to smile about.