Thursday, December 10, 2009

NHS Orthodontic Treatment. Or not.

We took Briony to the orthodontist today. What a waste. The dentist wrote to the orthodontist last May saying she needed an appointment. We got a letter from the orthodontist in October saying our appointment was the last weekend of November. Briony was out of town that day so I called to reschedule... for today. All this just to be seen. The orthodontist says that yes, she is entitled to free orthodontic care through the NHS. The nurse talks to us. The first appointment (after this) will be photos and molds (understandable). The second appointment will be to discuss the treatment options and agree to a plan of action (okay). Then the third will be starting treatment (right).

THEN she says because they are only allowed to start treatment on so many NHS patients a month, we should expect a letter with a first appointment date around May, with treatment probably starting in July/August. REALLY?!?!

We didn't say anything about the move, thinking maybe we could get lucky with a cancellation or something. Originally we thought she'd get the braces on closer to now, and by the time we'd moved be well on her way, making treatment in the US less costly.

The picture is of the orthodontist examining her bite. They gave her groovy sunglasses to wear so that the bright light didn't go in her eyes. And I just want to say, her feet are not really that big, it's just the perspective of the shot.

I googled for Orthodontists back home (looking for my old one but couldn't find them). Anyway, I found one with a really good website that said email us with any questions. So I did. I wasn't really hopeful, I was expecting the reply, we need to see your child, we cannot blah blah blah. That is so not what I got. The lady was very helpful. She said that because different practices used different tools and equipment, it was better to not switch mid treatment, but of course possible. She also said it usually cost MORE when switched in the middle because they have to do some tests/molds/xrays themselves to verify the other work that has been done. She said that they do take into account how much you've already paid, but in our case it would be nothing.

Then she answered the question that I really wanted to know about, insurance. I don't think it paid for my sister's or my care when I was younger, but their website mentioned it, so I asked. If treatment has already been started when insurance kicks in, it is considered pre-existing, and they will not cover anything. Depending on what kind of insurance we get (and orthodontist care is usually an add on), they will often pay 50%, which is $1,000-$2,000. So we're going to wait. Hopefully I'll be able to find good work with good insurance, because $4,000 for braces is staggering. They also offer free initial exams, so at least taking her in and getting an estimate for final costs will be free. Whew. And Cale will probably need them as well.

I was very happy with this practice, though, and will definitely keep them in mind for when the time comes.


Rachel said...

Hi Jenny -- just popping by your blog for visit. I love your writing! One thing you may consider is getting the molds done in the UK and after -- telling the office you had a sudden and unexpected move come up. You may be able to collect the molds and then use them in the US -- saving another office and procedure fee in the US. Just a thought...

Jenny said...

Hi Rachel, so glad you came by, and thank you so much :) We will definitely keep the appointment when they book us in May or whenever, because it won't hurt anything. You are so right, we want to do all we can to keep the cost down. They are worth it, but orthodontics are sooo expensive!

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