Orthodontists, like Dr Satish Pai, can now offer an affordable aligner option to patients who would otherwise choose a direct-to-consumer solution.
By Tonya Johnson
uLab Systems recently announced a new aligner pricing structure for orthodontists using its uSmile Clear Aligner System. As uLab chief executive officer and founder Amir Abolfathi puts it, this “is an industry first for orthodontists.”
As Abolfathi described it, the new pricing structure is three-fold.
“First, we charge per aligner which allows new uses for aligners that are not economically feasible with many other companies. Orthodontists can mix brackets and aligners to more efficiently finish cases or turn a hard aligner case into an easy aligner case. This also means mild and moderate cases are extremely economical.
“Second, we have implemented an automatic case cap where after paying per aligner, doctors automatically reach a ceiling after which each additional aligner is free,” he adds. “This eliminates the risk of cost overruns for those more complex cases that take longer than one anticipated. It also prevents doctors from having to pay up-front for an expensive comprehensive case. Third, our pricing is significantly lower than major competitors—as low as $19 per aligner with a case fee ceiling as low as $950 per patient. And if the case ends don’t reach the cap, the doctor saves even more. This new pricing structure enables orthodontists to be both competitive and profitable in today’s world.”.
To learn how this new pricing structure is impacting the orthodontic practice, Orthodontic Products spoke with Satish Pai, DDS, MS, MPH, clinical director of Putnam Orthodontics in New York, to get his take on the program’s cost-saving benefits.
Orthodontic Products: Why did you decide to enroll in this program?
Satish Pai, DDS, MS, MPH: We have been using uSmile Clear Aligner System since mid-2020. One of the things that makes it attractive is the transparent pricing structure. The new uLab Partner Program gives my practice even greater savings—we pay only $19 per aligner, with the insurance that a case will never incur lab fees above $950. We don’t have to purchase this package in advance, it just kicks in if aligner orders for that patient reach the ceiling. There is only an upside for us in enrolling in the program.
OP: How have you used the program at your practice, and for how long?
Pai: We have been using uSmile aligners for 9 months for mild to moderate cases, and it has been super successful so far. Because we pay per aligner, we can order the number of stages we want—not the whole treatment at once. That way if a patient isn’t tracking, we can adjust the treatment without having to throw away the remaining aligners or incurring longer treatment times for our patients. Having the case fee ceiling removes a treatment cost variable.
OP: What kind of difference has it made in your clear aligner fees per case?
Pai: We have been able to offer an affordable option to patients who otherwise would have gone with a direct-to-consumer solution. It makes it financially feasible to finish more of our fixed cases in aligners using a hybrid approach. That way we finish our treatments in the estimated time in aligners, and patients are very happy.
OP: What type of economic impact has the program had on your practice?
Pai: Clearly reduced aligner lab fee line item on the P&L. It’s a great alternative to the big box aligner options that are out there. OP