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, so before you open your wallet, you'll want to make sure you actually need to get custom orthotics and if you do, 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:
While the sticker price for custom orthotics 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.
Additionally, the plastic or EVA foam material used in the orthotic will give way after prolonged use. When that happens, you'll have buy another pair of custom orthotics. Over a lifetime, those costs add up to a big number.
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 the cost of custom orthotics. Before you consider having custom orthotics made, you'll want to check whether your insurance plan covers them.
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?
As 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. A reputable podiatrist will be able to provide this for you.
If the price of your custom orthotic insoles is high but your podiatrist isn’t thoroughly examining your feet or even taking a cast, be wary.
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:
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."
With so many doctors and studies questioning the need for custom orthotics, you're probably asking yourself if you actually need them. The truth is, there are some people who absolutely do need custom orthotics. Dr. James Ioli, DPM, Chief of Podiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, says this population includes those with:
But for the majority of people, particularly those suffering from Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, arch pain, heel pain, and kinetic chain pain, over-the-counter orthotics are the option that makes sense.
If you've realized you don't fall into the small group of people who do require custom orthotics, and you're considering buying over-the-counter orthotics instead, there are some specific features you'll want to look for to make sure you're getting the support you need.
And, because our insoles come in two parts - the molded arch supports and the interchangeable top covers - you'll only ever have to replace the top covers when you need. Not having to replace the entire insole will save you lots of money over a lifetime.
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