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Children + Orthodontics = $$$$$ + Tears

July 9th, 2013 at 03:19 pm

$150 for six minutes the orthodontist spent sitting in her chair, three of them adjusting my child's retainer. Replacing it, with moulds, would have cost $300. I am so livid I could eat nails. Did they tell me in advance what I could be looking at for cost? No. Do automotive mechanics, widely maligned, give an estimate before going ahead with work? Yes. Do automotive mechanics charge $50/minute to play with a plastic and wire apparatus? No.

This is worse than when my dentist charged me $77 to spend five minutes with him, in which I asked a question he could not answer. That's it: no investigation of the mouth, no rinse, fluoride, X-rays.

The three bright spots to my day: chocolates to end our gruelling Puzzled Pint night, crab pasta, and I did not spontaneously combust.

Update: The orthodontist called to apologize and reiterated I should not have been charged at ALL. I told her the assistant who attended her session with my son witnessed all the work and filled out the charge sheet, so without being told by any staff I had no idea this was a no-fee visit. I'd paid $3200 three years ago to cover work, and although they prepared me for the possibility of paying for a new mould and a new retainer, this was NOT what happened. But they billed me for that anyway.

At the end of the day when the orthodontist reviewed her appointments and charges, she saw the billing error. The financial coordinator e-mailed me about the apologies, but that does not excuse the fact that the cheque was deposited immediately upon payment and not at the end of the day, when the orthodontists have approved the charges for procedures performed that day.

8 Responses to “Children + Orthodontics = $$$$$ + Tears”

  1. laura (momcents) Says:


    I'd be livid, too, if I were you.

  2. ROXY1976 Says:

    I feel your pain with that. I was glad to have paid off $5500 for my childs braces. I still have two more kids to go. It never ends!

  3. PauletteGoddard Says:

    Hours later, after scowling at the staff, I receive an e-mail saying that I should not have been charged at all. This mystified me, as the ortho technician who SAT for the DURATION of our visit by the side of the Orthodontist was the one who charged us $150. So no communication there. The financial person is NOTHING BUT "HOW DO YOU WANT TO PAY FOR THAT?" The orthodontist says something to me and she's smiling, but I'm not, and she doesn't ask if there's a problem, so I get the idea she's like "YES! $3000 an hour! Suck it investment bankers, neurosurgeons and corporate lawyers!" Even though I am irritated at the cost: I paid in advance three years ago, one lump sum. It would have cost $300 to replace the retainer outright, so you can see why $150 for an ultra-brief right-at-the-chair adjustment with a handheld analog implement would have me in conniptions.
    Should they ever call to apologize, I'll say "thank you. How did you want to pay for the $300 bill for consulting over-the-phone with Seattle Orthodontics Clients today? I take Visa, Bitcoin, MasterCard, PayPal and gold coins."

  4. My English Castle Says:

    Exasperating! But glad you got your own back!

  5. snafu Says:

    So, will they rebate your $150. or refund the charge if you used a CC?

    Since you've paid in advance 3 years ago, what all was included in that sum? Did the clerk know child's orthodontics had been prepaid? What did she say when you told her you'd pre paid for services?

  6. rob62521 Says:

    About 6 years ago I had much needed braces put on. The deal I made with the ortho directly was half down when he started and the other half when he pulled them off. I had the cash and he was happy to get it in a lump sum. I would say your huge out of pocket at the beginning should have covered the little thing that was done. I don't blame you for being livid!

  7. PauletteGoddard Says:

    @snafu I have an e-mail from the Financial Coordinator promising a refund cheque for the full amount charged. Visits, initial appliances (braces and retainer) and their adjustments, observations are covered. The coordinator knew my child's orthodontics had been prepaid, that didn't stop her from saying "HOW DO YOU WANT TO PAY FOR THAT TODAY?"

    I have since received an apology from the assistant at fault. I accepted it, but I still have a hard time understanding how someone would sit through five minutes of retainer adjustment and think $150, half the cost of a retainer replacement, was an appropriate amount to charge when no surgery, anesthesia, drugs, lab, moulds or any instrument requiring electricity for that matter were used at any time.

    I've given this some thought and I believe that daily procedures for billing accounts contributed to the near-demolition of my trust. The orthodontist reviews the billings at the end of the day **after** charges had been collected and deposited, including Electronic Funds Transfer. I don't think it's right to charge people for things covered under their prepaid plan, get the EFT right away, and then mail a paper refund cheque because whoops! they prepaid.

  8. baselle Says:

    Grr. I'd be pissed too.

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