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Does Insurance Cover Invisalign?

June 19th, 2024 | 4 min read

By NYC Smile Design

Invisalign Cost

Many individuals considering Invisalign as an option for straightening their teeth are often faced with an important question: Will my insurance cover the costs? Understanding the nuances of insurance coverage for orthodontic treatments like Invisalign can be challenging. 

At NYC Smile Design, we have extensive experience navigating the complexities of dental insurance for various treatments, including Invisalign. 

This blog aims to demystify insurance coverage for Invisalign, providing you with the necessary information to plan your financial strategy for achieving a better smile, backed by years of expertise in ensuring our patients receive the most beneficial coverage options available

Understanding Invisalign 

Invisalign represents a revolutionary approach to orthodontic treatment, utilizing a series of clear, plastic aligners that are custom-made to fit snugly over your teeth. These aligners gently and gradually shift your teeth into their desired positions over time. Unlike traditional braces, which are composed of metal wires and brackets that are both visible and fixed, Invisalign aligners are virtually invisible and can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal, making the treatment less noticeable but also significantly improves oral hygiene, as there are no brackets trapping food particles.

Patients often prefer Invisalign because it allows them to maintain a more natural appearance during treatment. The removability of the aligners also means that there are fewer dietary restrictions—patients can eat and drink whatever they like during treatment by simply removing their aligners. Additionally, without the metal components of traditional braces, Invisalign wearers generally experience less irritation and discomfort in their gums and mouths.

Invisalign is suitable for treating a variety of dental issues, from minor tooth movements to more complex cases such as overbites, underbites, and even crossbites. However, the success of Invisalign heavily relies on the patient's commitment to wear the aligners for the recommended 20 to 22 hours per day.

Person holding invisalign

How Insurance Coverage for Invisalign Works

Navigating the world of dental insurance can be complicated, especially when it comes to understanding how different treatments are categorized and covered. Generally, dental insurance plans divide treatment into three main categories: preventive, basic, and major. Preventive care typically includes services like exams, cleanings, and x-rays; basic care covers things like fillings and extractions; and major services encompass more complex procedures such as crowns, and bridges.  Orthodontic care, particularly when involving innovative treatments like Invisalign, is often classified as a major service. It is more common though, for insurance coverage of orthodontics to be paid at 25-50% of total treatment cost or a fixed benefit of $1500-2500. Additionally,  many insurance plans now recognize Invisalign as a standard orthodontic treatment option. 

Factors Affecting Insurance Coverage

The decision of whether your insurance will cover Invisalign is influenced by a variety of factors. Here's a closer look at each of these factors to help you understand how they might impact your coverage:

Age Restrictions

Many dental insurance plans impose age limits on orthodontic coverage, often prioritizing children and teenagers. It's not uncommon for insurance providers to set a cutoff at 18 years old. For adults over this age, obtaining coverage for orthodontic treatments like Invisalign can be more challenging. Some insurance plans offer adult orthodontic coverage as an optional benefit with an additional premium, so it's important to review the specifics of your policy or discuss them with your insurance provider.

Type of Dental Plans

The type of your dental insurance plan can significantly affect your coverage:

  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): These plans usually require you to choose a provider from a network and typically offer lower premiums. However, they might have stricter limitations on which treatments are covered.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): PPO plans generally offer more flexibility in choosing a dentist and provide better coverage for a broader range of treatments, including Invisalign. However, they often come at a higher premium.
  • Indemnity Plans: These plans allow you to visit any dentist and are more likely to provide some level of orthodontic coverage, though they may require higher out-of-pocket costs.

Medical Necessity

For Invisalign to be covered under many insurance plans, it often needs to be justified as medically necessary. This typically means that the treatment is needed to correct a dental condition that could cause other health issues, such as a severe misalignment that affects your ability to chew or speak properly, rather than just for cosmetic reasons. Obtaining a detailed examination and a written statement from your dentist or orthodontist can help in proving the medical necessity to your insurance company.

Coverage Percentage

Most dental plans that include orthodontic benefits typically cover a percentage of the treatment cost. This coverage is about 25- 50% but can vary depending on the specifics of your plan. It's also crucial to be aware of the lifetime maximum benefit for orthodontic treatment, which is the total amount the insurance will pay for orthodontic care throughout the lifetime of the insured. Once this limit is reached, any further orthodontic treatments will not be covered.

Invisalign and case on top of money

Checking Your Insurance Plan

To find out if your Invisalign treatment is covered, follow these steps:

  1. Review Your Policy: Check the details of your dental insurance policy to see what orthodontic benefits are specifically mentioned.
  2. Talk to Insurance Representatives: Call your insurance provider and ask detailed questions about what orthodontic treatments are covered.
  3. Ask the Right Questions: Make sure to find out about any age or treatment restrictions, percentage of coverage, and the lifetime maximum.

Alternatives If Insurance Doesn't Cover Everything

Even if your insurance does not fully cover the cost of Invisalign, you have several options available to help manage the expenses. Here’s a detailed look at each alternative:

Payment Plans

Many dental offices understand the financial burden that can come with orthodontic treatment and offer payment plans to make the process more affordable. These payment plans allow you to spread the cost of your treatment over several months or even years. Typically, these plans are flexible and can be adjusted to fit your budget. Some practices might offer interest-free plans if the balance is paid within a certain period, while others might use third-party services to manage extended payment options with interest.

Third-Party Financing

For those who need additional financing options, third-party companies like CareCredit provide specific healthcare financing plans. CareCredit and similar services often offer promotional financing with deferred interest for a set period, which can be a great option if you plan your finances accordingly. These plans allow you to receive your treatment immediately while giving you the flexibility to pay over time, often without interest if the balance is paid within the promotional period.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

Using pre-tax dollars from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) is another viable option to manage out-of-pocket expenses for Invisalign. HSAs and FSAs allow you to set aside money before taxes for medical expenses, including orthodontic treatments like Invisalign. This can effectively reduce the cost of your treatment by lowering your taxable income. However, it’s important to check the specific rules associated with your account, as HSAs typically require you to have a high-deductible health plan, and FSAs usually have a use-it-or-lose-it policy where funds need to be used within the benefit year.

Understanding Your Invisalign Journey

Understanding your insurance coverage is crucial when considering Invisalign as a treatment option. With the right knowledge and planning, you can make informed decisions that align with your financial situation and orthodontic needs.

If you're considering Invisalign, we recommend contacting your insurance provider for specific details about coverage. Additionally, scheduling a consultation with a dental professional can provide a clearer picture of the costs involved and the best payment strategies to manage them.