Orthodontic Treatment Contracts Explained – Staged Contracts
In this edition of the Friday Focus, Dr. O of E&S Orthodontics, your Phoenix Orthodontist, continues his discussion on the importance of Orthodontic Treatment Contracts. Here he explains “staged” contracts, and why he doesn’t recommend them.
There are many ways an orthodontic practice can draw up a financial contract for a treatment plan.
Some offices divide up the treatment costs into different “stages”, almost like an a la carte menu at a steakhouse. While this is perfectly legal, it can also be confusing if the consumer doesn’t ask the right questions.
So, what goes into an orthodontic staged contract? Rather than presenting an all-inclusive, lump sum fee (which covers appointments and appliances from start to finish), staged contracts break out the major stages of treatment into separate fees that pretty much follow how orthodontic insurances reimburse orthodontic offices.
A staged contract can include:
- A fee for initial records required for creating the correct treatment plan, including X-rays, digital images, and photographs;
- Bonding fees for when the actual braces are applied;
- Appointments during active treatment months;
- Braces removal; and
- Fees for retainers.
When looking at a contract, consumers must evaluate whether they are being separately billed for each component in a staged contract, or one lump sum that covers everything.
It can be very easy to skew a fee to make you think an item is included. You may be told that the braces cost “X” dollars, only to find out later that you have to pay for the retainers separately.
That is not our approach at E&S Orthodontic. We firmly believe in lump sum contracts based on results rather than staged contracts which tack separate fees at different times into the treatment plan. Our patients always know, up front, what a treatment plan is going to cost and we offer a variety of payment plans to make treatment affordable and within budget.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to give our office a call.