Paying for braces without the assistance of dental or health insurance can be a daunting thought. Fortunately there are options available for helping to pay for the cost of braces without needing insurance. This article examines some of the possibilities available for children, adults and families who require orthodontic treatment.
Medical Dental Plans
Programs such as AmeriPlan offer discounts to their members for various dental and other health services. Dental and health care providers such as orthodontists who are registered members of these programs provide discounted rates to the participating beneficiaries for their services. These programs must be distinguished from health insurance as they do not provide any form of insurance coverage. They merely offer access to discounted medical and dental rates with the registered members. The savings also apply to the cost of braces.
There is usually an upfront membership fee, which is the one time registration charge. Members are then usually charged on a monthly basis to take part in the discounts. Different rates may apply for individual and household dental care. Typically the family or household plan provides for all members of the family who reside at the same address. Even though there is a monthly charge, the services are typically available immediately so members can receive discounted dental care the same day as registering for the plan. Since orthodontic discount programs are not insurance, members have to pay the doctors, dentists or orthodontists fees directly (in addition to paying the program fees).
What is the Cost of Braces with Dental Health Plans?
These plans include orthodontic care such as braces and offer significant discounts in relation to the cost. The orthodontic and dental office fees and savings vary depending on the location and practice. The price cuts can be significant. As an example, typical rates for orthodontic braces for persons under the age of 19 are approximately $6,700. With the Ameriplan dental plan, you can get them for as low as $2,300, which is a huge discount of 66%. The same savings can be applied for braces for persons aged 19 and over. Even though braces are more expensive for adults, the same percentage reduction is applied.
With these mark-down plans you need to read the fine print carefully to ensure your dental work or procedure is covered. For example, the work on existing braces is often excluded from cover under these plans. Whilst these programs provide significant financial advantage, they are not a substitute for health insurance. If you are considering purchasing braces don’t jump to cancelling your health insurance policy on the expectation of these plans. It may cost you more to reapply for health insurance, if you are able to reapply at all.
With these medical dental plans, the cost of braces can become affordable for you and your family even without adequate insurance.
Charities, Non-profit & Pro Bono Programs
Another alternative to funding the cost of braces without insurance is to look to programs such as Smiles Change Lives and the Smiles for Life Foundation. These foundations are designed for children from low income families who are not otherwise able to afford proper orthodontic care for their kids. They typically work from donations whereby funding is sourced from the public and also from small fees payable by the eligible recipient of treatment.
Orthodontists become members of the program and provide orthodontic braces to children who are eligible for such care free of charge to the child. In order to be eligible for pro bono braces, there are certain requirements which need to be met. For example, in order to receive braces, the child must submit an application form and pay an application fee (usually around $25), the child must be between the ages of 10 and 18 and have good oral hygiene. The household taxable income is taken into account. For example the smiles change lives income threshold is that or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
Usually there is a fee payable for the service. However, the fee is very much minimal compared to the normal cost of braces. Currently the fee for a smiles change lives orthodontic braces treatment is $500. Once again, there are restrictions to the program where the child already has existing braces.
Pro bono and charity programs provide children of low income families access to braces at an affordable rate. Since many US households are without insurance, this is a very beneficial community program for low income families.
Dental College Clinics
If you do not have insurance, then charity programs and medical plans are not your only option for braces. You do not need to visit a private clinic and pay the full cost of getting braces if you can’t afford to do so. Dental collage clinics provide orthodontic care by students who are supervised by experienced orthodontists. If you are lacking in funds and wish to limit the cost of your braces, then visiting a dental college clinic may be an option to consider. Typically they provide a two third saving cost of getting orthodontic treatment as opposed to private practice fees and charges. The American Association of Orthodontist website provides a list of such accredited schools.
Getting braces under Medicaid or Medicare
Another option for paying for the cost of braces without insurance is by looking at government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Whilst Medicare is a program largely aimed at over 65 year olds, despite popular belief Medicare does not provide any funding for dental care or orthodontics. Trying to get payment for braces through Medicare is not an option.
As for Medicaid, since this is a welfare program, access to braces is available in limited circumstances. To see when Medicaid will pay the cost of braces, see our Medicaid braces page.
The prices you pay for braces from a private clinic can range from $4,500 to upwards of $10,000. These exorbitant costs may be circumvented if you have insurance. However, like many US families you may not have adequate dental insurance to cover the cost of braces. Where you are lacking in health insurance, you’ll be relieved to know there are other options available for reducing the cost of braces. If you’re trying to seek a cheap and effective way of straightening your teeth, try one of the above options for financing your orthodontic care.