February 8, 2019 OrthoCatapult

Rethinking Treatment Affordability

Total Treatment Fee vs. Minimum Payment Amounts

Offering affordable orthodontic treatment is critical to maximizing practice growth, especially for adult consumers who seldom have orthodontic insurance benefits and families with several children who need to be treated. While being competitive with your overall treatment fee is important, it is far more crucial to have affordable down payments and monthly payment fees.

How Consumers Buy

Take a moment to consider how consumers buy homes and automobiles. Their primary concerns are how much they have to come out of pocket initially for the down payment and how much they need to budget each month for their monthly payments.

In the mortgage industry, the market is significantly influenced by the interest rates each buyer can obtain. When interest rates are low, buyers can afford more expensive homes as long as they have enough to cover the minimum down payment required by the mortgage company (or to avoid PMI). When interest rates are high, buyers limit their search to lower-priced homes to fit the monthly payments into their budget. Similarly, while frugal people love 15-year mortgages for their lower interest rates and overall total interest paid, their higher monthly payments are restricting on budgets. It’s no surprise that a majority of mortgages are 30-year loans which offer significantly lower monthly payments even with higher interest rates.

In the automobile industry, we never see the actual price of the car written on the windshield for passersby to see. Instead, we see the monthly payment amount advertised. If we looked at the actual sticker price on the vehicle, we would likely never look at many of the vehicles we buy or lease currently. This payment affordability model is crucial to expanding the orthodontic market and growing your practice.

How Can We Make Orthodontics More Affordable?

As stated at the top of this post, here at OrthoCatapult®, we believe your overall treatment fees need to be competitively priced; however, that doesn’t mean you cannot be the premium priced practice in your area if you are offering a premium experience. That said, if you are not offering low minimum down payments and low monthly payment options, you are stifling your growth. This is a rare case where you “can have your cake and eat it too” as long as you are willing to accept slightly more risk and offer extended payment options to your patients. For example, a $6280 18-month treatment plan with a $1500 insurance benefit can be “expensive” or very affordable as shown below:

18-Month Comprehensive Treatment Plan: $6280 

Typical Payment Plan

0% Interest Treatment Length Payment Plan (18 Months)

  • $1500 Insurance (Paid To Practice)
  • $500 Down Payment
  • $237.78/Month x 18 Months
  • $0 Interest Paid                             
  • $6280.00 Total Payments

Extended Payment Scenarios

0% Interest Extended Payment Plan (21 Months)

  • $1500 Insurance (Paid To Practice)
  • $500 Down Payment
  • $203.81/Month x 21 Months (0%)
  • $0 Total Interest Paid                         
  • $6280.00 Total Payments

2.9% Interest Extended Payment Plan (24 Months)

  • $1500 Insurance (Paid To Practice)
  • $500 Down Payment
  • $183.77/Month x 24 Months (2.9%)
  • $130.49 Total Interest Paid                
  • $6410.49 Total Payments 

5.9% Interest Extended Payment Plan (27 Months)

  • $1500 Insurance (Paid To Practice)
  • $500 Down Payment
  • $169.66/Month x 27 Months (5.9%)
  • $300.87 Total Interest Paid                
  • $6580.87 Total Payments

8.9% Interest Extended Payment Plan (30 Months)

  • $1500 Insurance (Paid To Practice)
  • $500 Down Payment
  • $159.65/Month x 30 Months (8.9%)
  • $509.58 Total Interest Paid                
  • $6789.58 Total Payments

If you offered all the above options to 100 patients, how many do you think would choose an extended payment option? How many would actually prefer the 27 Month (5.9% interest) or 30-Month (8.9% interest) payment plans? If we eliminated the frugal families with financial means to pay-in-full in order to receive a 5% – 8% discount, how does that impact your answers?

Understandably, presenting 5 payment plans is not practical or advised; however, for all the scenarios above, you can easily present them, including pay-in-full, with OrthoAccept™, the best orthodontic payment calculator on the market, and allow the patient to pick their ideal plan within your payment parameters. You simply set the guardrails for each patient group, risk category, treatment option and treatment length in your OrthoCatapult settings and OrthoAccept does the rest automatically for you. In-office or at-home, it works wonders in allowing patients to “Start Now!” Click Here to see it in action.

The bottom line is when down payments and monthly payments are affordable, more patients can say yes to treatment and recommend your practice to friends and family members.


The OrthoCatapult®  Team

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Helping more patients say "Yes" to the smiles they deserve!