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Pay for braces upfront?
Old 12-04-2015, 02:17 PM   #1
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Pay for braces upfront?

DW has had some issues with her teeth lately and the consensus diagnosis seems to be for her to get braces. I'm on-board that she needs it and the roughly $4k cost but we are at odds as to how to pay for it. It'll be a 3 year program. She has chosen invisalign... I'm not sure that is the best program for her but that is a separate issue and not the issue of contention.

The group she is dealing with wants either payment in advance (with a 10% discount) or they can do a "payment plan" which looks to be financing.

I'm uncomfortable with paying for services over such a long period of time in advance. Lots can happen over three years... DW might not be happy with the services, she could get ill, the doc could go out of business, etc.

DW argues that given my concern that then we should do the payment plan but even if something bad were to happen we would still be liable for the payments because from the looks of it their "payment plan" is nothing more than financing (and high 14.9% interest financing at that). If we were just making payments to the doc and could stop if we or he stopped then that would be fine with me.

My preference would be to pay for the work as it is performed so if for some reason DW isn't satisfied then we have options to go to another provider or whatever. The way I explained it to her is that what they are proposing would be akin to contracting to have a house built and paying the full contact price upfront rather than as the work progresses.

What say you? Does anyone have any experience with braces in their 60s? or invisalign?
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Old 12-04-2015, 02:58 PM   #2
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If those were my only choices, I'd probably pay it all up front instead of opting for 14.9% interest.

But really, is this the only place where she can get invisalign braces? Are there other orthodontists that are equally well regarded, who might have a more realistic payment plan?

I never had braces as an adult, but with expensive, lengthy dental procedures such as root canal plus crown, or implant plus crown, I opted to just "pay as you go". I think they would have waited until it was all done if I had asked to do that, but instead I volunteered to pay at two to four different times along the way.
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:06 PM   #3
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Another way to look at it, the "pay as you go" option is the list price, the upfront pay it all is a discount, not only for paying early, but also staying with them the whole time. Is the discount enough for both those things?

If you pay over time, how much are you going to pay in the first 6 months or so? Is this evenly spread over the 3 years or is a large % being paid early on? Having the option to walk away mid-procedure only saves money if the cash flow is even and there is no contract.
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:08 PM   #4
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Dentists aren't like contractors building a house. If they have a good reputation I'd pay up front.


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Old 12-04-2015, 03:27 PM   #5
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Pay now.
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:36 PM   #6
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I'd pay up front. But make sure this doctor/group is the best choice. Shop around, do research, get referrals, etc.
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:46 PM   #7
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It is important to know if it is really financing or not.... if it is, then the doc is paid upfront and you owe the money to someone else... after that, it does not matter if the doc does their job or not...


Now, I would ask the doc if there is a refund if he does not complete the work.... IOW, if you move and go somewhere else will you get some money back or will you have to cough up more money to another doc?

BTW, you might be able to get a pay as you go plan with the doc with no discount... unless they are booked up, they would work with that as they do want to get a customer....
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Old 12-04-2015, 03:59 PM   #8
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My experience with my 2 kids with similar procedure, was we paid 2 installments: one up-front, and one final. Maybe that is another option for you.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:01 PM   #9
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To be clear we would not do the 14.9% under any circumstances.

I'm 99.9% sure it is financing... the doc is paid upfront by the credit company and then we owe payments to the credit company. Even though the doc office pitches it as a "convenient monthly payment plan" it is really financing.

As I understand it the work is pretty even over the course of the treatment, perhaps a bit of front loaded effort but not much.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:39 PM   #10
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I wouldn't be comfortable with either plan, unless perhaps this guy has been in the same place for 20+ years and even then there is at least some risk that he'll get run over by that killer bus.

Is he the only game in town? I'd want to explore other options before committing to paying up front or an absurd interest rate.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:46 PM   #11
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One option the credit company allows is pay over 6 or 12 months with no interest, which is only slightly better than prepaying.

I think I'll see if DW is willing to see if we can just pay the doc as the work progresses and if not, we'll look elsewhere.

I offered to let her prepay upfront with her money and then we would pay her back from our money, but she didn't seem to like that idea.
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Old 12-04-2015, 04:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
One option the credit company allows is pay over 6 or 12 months with no interest, which is only slightly better than prepaying.

I think I'll see if DW is willing to see if we can just pay the doc as the work progresses and if not, we'll look elsewhere.

I offered to let her prepay upfront with her money and then we would pay her back from our money, but she didn't seem to like that idea.

LOL... my DW does not like that suggestion for anything!!!

However, she does throw her own money in for vacations, so it is not all bad...
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Old 12-04-2015, 05:02 PM   #13
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$4000 is pretty cheap for braces isnt it? We paid $3000 about 12 years ago.
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Old 12-06-2015, 12:20 AM   #14
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I had invisalign braces in my early 50s as my teeth began to move.
I had to stop after 70% of the procedure as one of the teeth was in danger to get disconnected. I secured the result by night braces.
Up to that point I liked invisa. and the result still is good.
Get a second opinion and take care.
I would not pay upfront.
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:40 AM   #15
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$4000 is pretty cheap for braces isnt it? We paid $3000 about 12 years ago.
My objection is not to the $4,000 cost, but with paying in advance.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:14 AM   #16
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My objection is not to the $4,000 cost, but with paying in advance.
What I meant was that it seems like you are getting a good discount for paying up front. If he said the braces were $5500, but $4000 if you paid up front you, might be looking at this differently. Maybe hes not charging finance charges for paying in installments. Maybe the installments is his regular price, but he gives a discount for paying up front?
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:43 AM   #17
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Assuming $4,000 the choices would be pay $3,600 up front, pay $667/month for 6 months, pay $333/month for 12 months or make payments over a longer than 12 month period but with 14.9% interest. That last one ain't gonna happen.

It is true that the regular price is $4,000 and he offers a 10% discount for upfront payment... but assuming a 36 month service period the value of what he is providing is $111/month so no matter how you cut it he is demanding some form of prepayment.

My issue isn't cash flow or the time value of money or anything like that... it is more what if DW gets 6 or 12 months into this and is dissatisfied with the service... if we pay as we go she can quit or move to another doc or whatever... we have choices... if we prepay (in a lump sum or via the credit company) then she is committed irrespective of her satisfaction with the service or if the service provider becomes unable to perform.

I'm having trouble thinking of any other long-term service that someone would rationally pay for upfront.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:53 AM   #18
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Assuming $4,000 the choices would be pay $3,600 up front, pay $667/month for 6 months, pay $333/month for 12 months or make payments over a longer than 12 month period but with 14.9% interest. That last one ain't gonna happen.

It is true that the regular price is $4,000 and he offers a 10% discount for upfront payment... but assuming a 36 month service period the value of what he is providing is $111/month so no matter how you cut it he is demanding some form of prepayment.

My issue isn't cash flow or the time value of money or anything like that... it is more what if DW gets 6 or 12 months into this and is dissatisfied with the service... if we pay as we go she can quit or move to another doc or whatever... we have choices... if we prepay (in a lump sum or via the credit company) then she is committed irrespective of her satisfaction with the service or if the service provider becomes unable to perform.

I'm having trouble thinking of any other long-term service that someone would rationally pay for upfront.
I agree that it sucks to pay before you know everything, like what kind of quality and service does he bring to the table. However, it doesnt really matter unless you can find an orthodontist who accepts "pay as you go". It seems the pay up front is the industry standard in orthodontics.
If you do find one that accepts "pay as you go" I would be afraid the doctor is only doing it because his practice is suffering and he needs patients. That would worry me more than your current worry.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:04 AM   #19
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I assume you don't have dental insurance? Any chance you can sign up really quick. We got $1000 for one kid and $2000 for the other kid. (Employer bought out and change/degradation in benefits when this occurred.) More importantly, we got a very nice negotiated rate - $6k went to $4k with negotiated rates, then insurance paid 2k of that. The lesser insurance, but less work done, $5k went to $4k (not as good negotiated rate) then $1k covered, so $3k OOP. I freaked when they told me the faster/less work kid was going to be more and the office manager said she really liked this new insurance.... I'm sure she did - they got more $$$.

Our orthodontist offered free financing over 18 months. So I had the balance paid for before they were done. It was 0% through a company called Orthobanc. I asked about a cash discount but our orthodontist said they couldn't do that given our already negotiated insurance rates.

(At the time, my goal was to pay off the braces before retirement. Did that.)

As far as invisilign... Our orthodontist offers it - it is more expensive. I've observed that often folks who start out with invisilign end up with regular brackets for the final stage. So it must be slightly less effective. Our orthodontist uses invisilign for the retainers... Unfortunately, if you have dental work that changes the shape or bite of your molars, for example, you have to replace them. We were fortunate to talk our dentist into paying for the new invisilign retainers for our older son because he didn't tell us that getting a filling would result in a $300 hit to replace the retainers. But it's been 3 weeks and we don't get the new retainers till Monday.

Old school retainers had plastic on the inside (roof of the mouth or under the tongue) then wires on the outside... so changes to the bite part of the teeth didn't effect them.
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:44 AM   #20
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We don't have dental insurance currently. Also, the amount the insurance would pay would not be much more than the cost of the insurance. For example, one plan I just looked at has a 12 month waiting period for braces, a 50% co-pay, $1,000 annual max and $73/month premium so I don't see the dental insurance route as being attractive. Even if everything lined up right I would pay $949 (13 * 73) to get a $1,000 benefit.
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