When Should NON-Custom Orthotics Cost $400?

I don't like when people are taken advantage of. Someone in pain will do anything possible to relieve it. This is especially true for foot pain. Foot pain impacts every aspect if your life - work, play, vacation, exercise...everything. That is why I love being a Podiatrist in Houston. I get to work together with my patients to eliminate their pain and allow then to return to their beloved activities as soon as possible.

I had one such patient see me in the office recently. He had been suffering from arch pain that was hurting constantly and it was effecting his entire work day and, most importantly, his ability to play with his young children. Although he planned on scheduling an appointment with a podiatrist, he passed a store called Ideal Feet and thought he'd stop in. He admitted to me on his first visit to our office that it was a big mistake.

During his visit to the retail store, he was evaluated by a salesman who told him he was suffering from plantar fasciitis, a common cause of heel and arch pain, and would benefit from orthotics. He then took an ink imprint of his foot to shoe how his arch drops. He was presented with a pair of hard-rubber insoles, or non-custom orthotics, and told to wear them and his heel pain would resolve. The price tag: about $400. About what a pair of custom orthotics would cost, if insurance doesn't cover them.

There is a time and a place for an off the shelf insole. There are several brands that offer good support, such as Powerstep, Spenco, and Superfeet. In fact, we have Powersteps available in our office. Such an insole should only be an investment of $30 to $60! No insole that is not custom-made should cost more.

After trying a few different pair of insoles from Ideal Feet, the staff determined that they didn't have the right solution for him and, to their credit, offered him store credit. Since the store carries excellent shoes, his money will not be wasted. I give them credit for that since there are similar stores that have an absolute no-return policy. Since that time he has received a comprehensive biomechanical examination in our office, custom orthotics, and appropriate treatment for his heel and arch pain and is well on the road to recovery.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
I appreciate the comment and I can only speak for myself and my practice. When a custom orthotic is not covered by insurance, my office fee is $450. This includes the casting, materials, dispensing visit, and a follow up visit. It also includes any initial adjustments that may be necessary. Yes, the initial evaluation visit is a separate charge, as well as x-rays if necessary, but that's it. I also stand behind my orthotics with a money-back guarantee. The point of the post is that when a retail store pulls an insole off of a shelf, which in many cases will not be accepted for return once the customer leaves the store, it should never cost $400. I can't tell you how many patients I see who fall prey to unscrupulous businesses that do just that.
by Dr. Schneider September 2, 2012 at 11:26 AM
You say a pair of custom orthotics would cost about $400. Does this include the cost for the consultations, evaluation, molding generation, follow-ups, and any other office visits that would be necessary to obtain a custom set of orthotics? I'm skeptical that all this could be done for about $400- each visit will cost $100+.
by Thomas Gardendale August 30, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Pay will just actually compensates the treatment given.
by Orthotics Pittsburgh January 15, 2012 at 10:14 AM
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