Brace Yourself for Expenses

The vast majority of US kids have orthodontic work done at some point in their childhood. My gut feeling is that there is a tendency to over brace kids. It seems to be a very American obsession with perfect teeth. Bit if the dentists says that kids need braces then as a parent our natural tendency is of course to accept that diagnosis. No one wants to be the parent who feels guilty because their child has dental problems later in life.

This week it was our 11 year old son’s turn. We had two medical opinions on his orthodontic needs. Both were in general similar in terms of the amount of recommended work, however there was some variation in price. In the end we went with the orthodontist that was more expensive because we had a better feeling about the practice and environment.

Boy are braces expensive!

The average cost of braces in the US $5000-$7,000. We went through this previously a few years ago with our daughter. At the time we had employer provided dental insurance so some of the cost was covered, but by no means all of it. Our current dental is an ACA plan, so as such orthodontics is not covered., therefore we have to pay the entire bill ourselves. I’m not sure how most people pay the bills if they have multiple children.

For someone on a frugal budget this does throw a bit of a curve ball to the annual budget. But we don’t want to send the message to our kids that we are denying them things because we have retired early.

So suddenly we have this $7000 bill we hadn’t really planned for. Of course payment can be made over the course of treatment which can take up to 2 years. In the end we decided to pay all up front, and get a 5% discount. Of course we could probably make that 5% anyway by investing the $7000 and drawing down to cover. However psychologically we liked the idea of getting it out of the way. It does mean that we are now likely to blow our budget for the year. We will cut down on a couple of things, for example not going away over Christmas. But it does mean that next year we will not have to pay the money.

This has been our first road bump since FIREing. I’m sure there will be others, but we will cope with this and move on.

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