By Michael J. Velsmid, DPT,
(Part II in a series on orthotics)
Are you faced with getting a new pair of custom orthotics? Whether your doctor prescribed them or they were recommended by a family member or friend, you are about to get sticker shock. I have had my patients tell me that they paid upwards of $600 to get a new pair of custom orthotics. That is over and above what they or their insurance paid for the visit the podiatrist. Why so much?
The simple answer is mark-up. I have been making custom orthotics for over 17 years. I have used the same lab for the last several years. Many other labs have pursued me and offered a few dollars off of each pair, but my cost between labs is pretty much the same. The suggested mark-up by the labs runs between 100% and 200%.
Just like anything else sold in this capitalistic society, money is made by selling something for more than you bought it. That shirt you bought in Macy’s was marked up 200%. Those shoes, also marked up in triple digits. Yes, the orthotics you bought from your podiatrist provided a tidy profit too.
When it comes to medical supplies, the mark-up can reach the stratosphere. Some of the mark-up covers the liability costs. Some of it covers the cost of research and development. Some of it covers the profit made by several middle men before it reaches the end-user. Much of it covers the extensive education costs and experience of the provider.
At Boston Sports Medicine, the providers of orthotics have extensive education and experience. We have expensive liability insurance. Our research and development cost is covered by the lab we use. When we sell orthotics to our patients, we bill for our time involved and the cost of the orthotics, plus about $20. That’s right, we charge our patients what we are charged by the lab, our shipping and handling fees, plus $20. That works out to be $170 for the same orthotics you may have bought elsewhere for $400. Why the extra $20? Because we guarantee there will be no additional cost for revisions or repairs over two years. That $20 is like an insurance policy and warranty.
We are not in the business of selling merchandise and medical supplies, so we do not need to make a profit on the sale of orthotics. We are in the business of providing physical therapy services. This includes a proper biomechanical analysis, orthotic prescription, casting, and fitting. That is covered by most health insurance policies.
If you are interested in getting custom orthotics at Boston Sports Medicine, please request an appointment.
Dr. Velsmid is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine