The Cost of Custom Orthotics - Are They Worth the High Price?

by Cassia Roth

14 Comments

How much do custom orthotics cost? While prices vary, they usually run from $200 to $800. That’s quite an investment when it comes to footwear or insoles, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting the most for your money.

The first step is knowing exactly what you’re paying for, so you can decide whether it’s a good fit for you. In this article, we’ll go over:

Additional Costs to Factor In

While prescription orthotics’ sticker price runs from $200 to $800, you should also factor in additional costs.While these devices can last for years, the top surfaces will wear out and have to be replaced. This can cost $50 to $100. At some point the plastic or firm EVA foam materials will give way indicating that it is time to get a new pair of orthotics.

If you're covered by health insurance, you'll usually only have to pay 10-50% of the total price. However, it's important to know that insurance often doesn't cover them. You'll want to check your insurance plan before considering custom-molded orthotics. 

Why Are Custom Orthotics So Expensive?

The manufacturing cost of custom orthotics (including materials) is normally $100 or less. So where does the hefty price tag come from, and are custom insoles worth it?

What You're Paying For

Here's what goes into the total cost of prescription orthotics:
  • Examination – Remember, the podiatrist is doing a thorough analysis of your lower extremities, gait, and lifestyle. This can include X-Rays, gait analysis on a treadmill and other tests.
  • Casting – A podiatrist takes a non-weight bearing cast of your feet.
  • Mark-up – Feet, after all, are still a business.

As the podiatrist Dr. Robert Eckles of Manhattan notes, “It's hard to see the value in the plastic.” But he reminds us that we’re “paying for a comprehensive diagnosis of present and future problems” and not simply the orthotic itself.

It is helpful to ask your podiatrist to break the cost down for you, so you can understand the exact cost of each element. Be wary if the price of custom orthotic insoles is high but your podiatrist isn’t thoroughly examining your feet or even taking a cast.

What Physicians Have To Say

While podiatrists often promote the need for custom orthotics, some sports medicine doctors aren’t convinced they are worth the cost. Dr. William O. Roberts, a sports medicine physician in St. Paul, Minnesota says

“If your main business is feet, and part of your income is prescribing orthotics, then you might prescribe them 90, 100 percent of the time. It’s a financial issue, and I don’t think there's a huge need for custom orthotics.”

Orthopedic surgeons often agree with this line of thinking about custom insoles for shoes. Dr. John G. Kennedy, an orthopedic surgeon in Manhattan contends

“There is a big problem with orthotics out there and people are not aware of it. The number of orthotics that I see prescribed in this city is far greater than is warranted by the number of pathological reasons.”

One factor in this difference of opinion between medical doctors (MD) and podiatrists (Doctors of Podiatric Medicine, DPM) is their training:

  • Physicians attend school for four years, where they learn many general concepts before doing three years of highly-specialized residency.
  • Podiatrists go to four years of school, learning specifically about the foot and ankle before doing one more year of podiatric residency. While this can make them experts at anything foot- and ankle-related, they might miss other larger structural problems that a sports medicine or orthopedic physician will consider. Nevertheless, a good podiatrist will consider the overall picture before prescribing custom orthotic inserts.

Custom vs Prefabricated Orthotics

A 2009 study came to the following conclusion: "At two to three months and at 12 months, prefabricated orthoses were as effective as custom orthoses ... There is no evidence that custom orthoses are more effective than prefabricated ones."

We believe for most people, a semi-custom solution like the Tread Labs Stride insole is the best choice.

Stride insoles are constructed with the same medical-grade materials as many custom orthotics, offering a similar level of comfort and support. However, they are much more wallet-friendly. All Tread Labs insoles come with our satisfaction guarantee - try them for 30 days and if you're not completely satisfied, we'll exchange or refund them. We'll even pay the return shipping.

That kind of guarantee is hard to find in the world of custom orthotics. Unless you have extremely deformed feet, give Tread Labs a try. You have nothing to lose - and comfort to gain.

Want to learn more about orthotics before deciding on the right fit for you? Explore our other resources:

FIND YOUR FIT

Cassia Roth
Cassia Roth


14 Responses

Dan - Tread Labs
Dan - Tread Labs

June 03, 2019

Hi Daniel,
Tread Labs orthotic insoles are great for providing even weight distribution and will help improve alignment by supporting your arches.. The orthotic portion of our insoles runs from the ball of the foot through the heel. A podiatrist may be able to add a toe filler to the insole for you, but it would be worth checking in with your doctor or podiatrist to see if this is an option.
We do offer a 30 Day Guarantee, which allows you to try the insoles for a month before determining whether you would like to keep the insoles, exchange them, or return them for a full refund.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may about finding the right arch height, or any other concerns you may have.
Thanks,
Tread Labs

Daniel Hubler
Daniel Hubler

June 03, 2019

I have had all of my toes on both feet amputated. Do you have a product that would offer me support? I would like to resume easy jogging. Thanks.

Dan
Dan

April 30, 2019

Hi Peggy,
Tread Labs insoles work great for folks suffering with Plantar Fasciitis.
Our Stride insoles address both the cause and the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. While it is tempting to address heel pain with soft cushion insoles, these will only provide momentary relief. You need strong support to spread the weight evenly over your feet and support the plantar fascia.
Supporting the plantar fascia will help reduce the inflammation, which is the the root cause of the pain and discomfort your are experiencing.
We offer several arch heights providing a near custom fit for almost everyone. Determining your arch height is the first step in finding relief.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have regarding finding the right insole for you.
Thanks,
Tread Labs

Peggy Jones
Peggy Jones

April 30, 2019

I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot. What do you recommend for my feet.

Dan
Dan

January 28, 2019

Hi Harry,
From flat feet to high arches Tread Labs insoles can provide a near custom fit for just about everyone.
Typically for flat feet we recommend our LOW arch supports. Using a higher level of support can often feel too aggressive and cause discomfort.
However, some folks with flat feet have a more flexible arch and can find the right level of support and comfort using one of our higher arch heights. You may want to take a look at this link which talks about measuring the arches flexibility;
https://treadlabs.com/blogs/insoles-reach-your-stride/arch-height-101-how-to-tell-if-you-have-high-arches
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have, or if we can assist in any way.
Thanks,
Dan-Tread Labs

harry s.
harry s.

January 28, 2019

Would this type of orthotic be good with severe pes planus (flat feet)?

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

November 16, 2018

Hi Janet,
For your size I would suggest a women’s 9-10.5 with a Medium arch support. The insoles are designed to trimmed, so you’ll likely need to trim a bit off the top cover to get the right fit for your footwear. A trimmed insole can absolutely be returned/exchanged, so don’t worry about voiding the warranty if you do need to trim them.
Please give us a call at 781-435-0662 or send us an email at hello@treadlabs.com if you have any questions or concerns.
Thanks,
Dan-Tread Labs

Janet a
Janet a

November 16, 2018

I am size 10 medium. Women’s size

Dan - Tread Labs
Dan - Tread Labs

April 04, 2018

Hi Doug,
Thanks for taking an interest in Tread Labs.
We do not make custom insoles, what we do offer is 3 styles of insoles available in 4 different arch heights. Our semi-custom insoles can provide a near custom fit for almost everyone at a fraction of the cost of custom insoles.
If you’d like more information about how to best determine which style and height would be most beneficial for you please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 781-435-0662, or shoot us an email at hello@treadlabs.com
Thanks,
Dan

Doug Sorenson
Doug Sorenson

April 02, 2018

I have casts of my feet, but the service that originally provided the orthotic cast is no longer in business. I need to find a new provider? I live in Racine Wisconsin.

Dan
Dan

October 04, 2017

Hi Bob,
Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us.
We completely agree with the points you have made here. There is a small number of people who need fully custom orthotics, which require the fine details and specifications you provide.
We are here to serve the vast majority of people who may not need a custom orthotic but are not finding the relief they need from most over the counter insoles.
Thanks again,
Dan

Bob
Bob

October 03, 2017

This post misses vital information. Generally orthopedists do not agree with orthotic management often because their business is high-volume surgery. A lot of times orthotic management contact for the need for surgery in a much more conservative manner. I am director of a foot orthotic laboratory The far majority of orders we received from podiatrists is significantly more detailed than the orthotic orders we see from orthopedists or chiropractors or other specialists. We actually have a separate division of technicians and handlers for the orders that come in from the podiatrists rather than the other specialist, because they require more detailed angled attention. We even have to charge them more for this but the podiatrists are fine with us because they know they are getting a superior product for their specialty. As opposed to the other specialists who order orthotics, their orders are very cookie cutter, run-of-the-mill generic arch supports that frankly probably don’t do much better than a good over-the-counter item. In fact to refute this article, About 70% of our business is comprised of orthopedists, chiropractors, physical therapists. 70% is comprised from podiatrists. Additionally, When our product sells to orthopedists, chiropractors and physical therapists, the more general product, we do not print the plate material with our name logo. We print our plate material only with our name local when he goes out to the podiatrist because it is of greater detailed fabrication. We don’t want our company’s name recognition if the product is not going to be of value. But as the article says, we are in business to sell orthotics. Frankly, we would sell to only Podiatrists but the volume would not be enough to keep us in business.
Dan
Dan

April 17, 2017

Hi Janet,

Thanks for reaching out to us.
Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of factors, but the most common among them is poor fitting footwear. Improper fitting shoes can cause stress on the ball of the foot which can cause inflammation in the metatarsals.
Finding a shoe with a wider toe box and using an insole that provides full length support could be an easy solution. Metatarsal pads may also help relieve some of the pain you are experiencing.
If you’d like to discuss this further please give us a call at 781-435-0662.

Cheers,
Dan

Janet Helmer
Janet Helmer

April 11, 2017

I would need supports for marsalgia

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