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Orthodontics may seem like purely aesthetic treatments for a more attractive smile, but that’s not always the case. Crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, which puts you at risk of decay and periodontal disease, and can cause jaw pain. Also, people who aren’t confident in their smile may feel that they lack a certain quality of life in social and professional situations.
There are strategies and programs to decrease the cost of orthodontics or spread it out over time. If you’re looking for ways to save on Invisalign, consider:
Flexible spending accounts (FSA)
An FSA allows a set amount of pretax money to be taken out of your salary and put aside purely to be spent on any costs you incur for healthcare. FSAs are only available through an employer offering that option. Many employee benefits packages include an FSA. They are often simple to use with a debit card attached to your own account. In 2018, the maximum amount of money one person could have in an FSA is $2,650 per employer. Funds in an FSA will not roll over, so you want to use them up before the end of the year.
Health savings accounts (HSA)
An HSA also lets you take out pretax dollars from your salary and set them aside to be spent only on healthcare costs. There are two differences between an FSA and an employer-sponsored HSA are: Funds in an HSA can roll over into a new year, and HSAs require you to have a high-deductible insurance plan. In 2018, the maximum amount of money you’re allowed to put into an HSA is $3,450 for an individual and $6,850 for a family.
Many dentists offer monthly payment plans so that you don’t have to pay your whole bill at once. When you ask your dentist about how much money they estimate your orthodontic work will cost, also ask about any payment plans their office offers.
Research to see if there are any dental schools in your city that may offer services at a discount. Signing up for treatment from a dental school means you agree to let a dental student learn by doing your dental work. A good dental school will ensure that a board-certified dentist oversees the student who is providing your services.
No-interest credit card
When used correctly a credit card might act as a way to finance dental work. You might qualify for a credit card with a 0 percent APR introductory rate. If you make regular payments and pay off the amount before the introductory rate ends, you’ll essentially create a payment plan without having to pay more.
Be aware of credit cards with a deferred interest rate. Unlike cards that are truly 0 percent APR, a deferred interest rate starts collecting interest as soon as you have a balance and puts off making you pay that interest for a set amount of time. If you pay off the entire balance within the promotional period, you won’t have to pay that interest, but if you have any balance left after the promo period ends, the interest rate from that time period is added to what you owe.
Use credit cards carefully and as a last resort, as they can become more expensive if not used properly.
For more information about APRs, interest, and deferred interest on credit cards, read more from the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.
Medicaid and children’s health insurance program (CHIP)
Kids and teens that receive government support for insurance may qualify for help to cover the cost of braces or Invisalign. If your child’s need for orthodontics is clearly hindering their overall health, the work might be covered. Work with your dentist and your insurance representative to make a case and get your child’s needs covered. Cases may differ state by state.