19 answers

Paying for Orthognathic Surgery

Our 18 yr. old daughter will be needing orthognathic surgery over the next year. The oral surgeon's office has said to expect at least a $50,000 medical bill between surgeon's fees and hospital bills. That does not include the orthodontics that she will need before and after, tongue thrust therapy and a gum graft that is also needed. Our daughter had 4+ years of braces that she finished approx. four years ago and her teeth remain beautiful. Unfortunately, her bottom jaw has been receding over the last year or so due to some genetic problems with her jaw joints. The problem is that our health insurance does not cover this type of treatment/ surgery. Orthognathic surgery is specifically excluded regardless of cause. I am probably going to move our daughter to my health insurance through work that has benefits that indicate they "might" pay for up to $15,000 of treatment. This will remain to be seen once her case is submitted to insurance for review. Even if they actually cover the full $15,000, that will still leave us at least $35,000 short. This would a devastating financial blow to our family. Our daughter needs the surgery as she may be facing some structural difficulties in swallowing, chewing, headaches, breathing, etc. The surgeon's office does not have many suggestions for coping with the staggering medical costs. Most oral surgeons we have found are not providers for any insurance plans and expect their payment in full. Besides credit cards and home equity loans has anyone else dealt with the enormous uncovered costs in any other ways?? Any families have any experience with obtaining legitimate medical grants to help defer some of these costs. This had been one suggestion I received. I would sure appreciate any advice. Thank you!

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Have a look at carecredit


I'm sorry it isn't covered, doesn't really make sense, does it?

Best wishes,

More Answers

I haven't found many doctors who aren't willing to set up a payment plan. Your orhtodontist should be willing to help you find a good surgeon will will set up a plan for you. This is a sad by product of our inusrance situation, and we've been in the same boat.....

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Hi - I just had a thought. Maybe you can check with your insurance to see if they cover a maxillofacial surgeon. They basically do the same thing as orthodontists (except braces) but generally work in a hospital thus most insurance cover them. (It worked for my daughter and we have Kaiser HMO!) Her case was a bit different from your daughter's as the dentist found a tumor in her mouth - but it was the orthodontist that we were referred to that gave us this tip. (We have medical but not dental)...Good luck and God bless!

1 mom found this helpful

um re check if she is put under or asleep its covered, and because it is a sugery that will last longer than 2 hrs it is covered, your insurance is giving you the run around, your daughter is 18 she could be covered under the healthly childrens medical, I would shop around doctors who take it, that is a huge bill you could spend a lot less if you do your home work,

1 mom found this helpful

UCLA has a teaching program and it might be covered through their Dental School-it's worth a try!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.!

I have to tell you while your doctor's diagnosis may be completely correct, have you:

a) gotten a second opinion?

b) checked out alternative medicine like chiropractic and acumpuncture?

Perhaps her jaw can be adjusted and you wouldn't need surgery.

I'd try that first. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Contact her school or your church or other group. Ask them to do a fundraiser in her honor to help pay for the cost of the medical bills. This may sound weird, but post flyers in wealthy cities asking for help. It may be all you can do. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Checking with Shriner's is a good idea. Also check with her college's health services department to see if they know of any ways to ease medical cost, programs, etc.


I am not sure if they do this, but I would check into Shriners Hospital. They do all kinds of surgeries for children at little or no cost. My niece had her sons club feet fixed for free! Their web site is www.shrinershq.org. It's worth a try. Good luck.


Our daughter is 18 and will have orthognathic surgery this spring at the Shrine Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. Our local Shriners are sponsoring her. We would not have known about this possibility if we hadn't met a Shriner and his wife on a train trip. The Shriner noticed my daughter's underbite and took me aside, telling me if we ever needed help with this to call the Shriners. They have been fantastic! Not only is the surgery totally paid for by them, they also cover our plane tickets (patient and 1 parent) for every visit. The only Shrine hospital that does this surgery (I believe) is the one in Chicago. They work with young people up to age 21 because this surgery cannot be done until the person stops growing. Everyone at the hospital has been wonderful. I don't know what we would have done without them!

If you live near a university that has a dental school, you may be able to get care at a reduced cost there. You also might check with universities with medical schools. My cousin received free oral surgery through University of California in San Francisco. You could check with the social worker at your local hospital to see if they have information on any free or low cost programs you can apply for. Also, check with charitable organizations such as Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, Jewish Social Services, or your church preference, if you have one. You don't have to be a member of these churches to request aid.

I can't say for sure if they still cover it, but I a similar problem and Kaiser covered the surgery. That was about 6 years ago. It took a quite bit of hassle getting the referral to the oral surgeon but once I did it went very well. Good luck.

Hello K.! My name is K.. I am an orthodontist. Just a suggestion. If you can get Kaiser insurance, the surgery is free. So you would just be responsible for the orthodontic fees and the premium for Kaiser. Hope this helps. Kaiser also has a great oral surgeon. His name is Dr. Relle. Please let me know if you need any more information. I'd be glad to help:) Have a fantastic day!

I was just told about this website that you can apply for federal grants for medical expenses. Would not hurt to give it a try.


Good Luck,

we have had some astronomical medical bills. What I do know, if your plan says they wont pay it-don't even waste your time trying- because they wont pay it.

Does your daughter have insurance through her college?

Since the surgery isn't an emergency everything will need to be preapproved. I looked and haven't found medical grants. What about smile train? I know they are a non profit for mouth stuff, but, maybe just cleft palate in under developed countries.

Can you do a payment plan? I know 35 thousand dollars is a nice cars payment plan....

Since your daughter is over 18, can she individually apply for medicare, and be covered that way? I do not know medicare rules, but, that could be an option.

good luck-I feel for you.

Ok... so something is really going on. You need to go observe without your child knowing you are there to see what really happens. Transition may be her challenge. Now, sometimes, not all the time, lunch who are not educated to work with children, do not have the style to talk to our children or will say "you need to eat it
!" and again 5 staff for 120 chhildren, I don't think so, of course they are going to stress out and not be able to meet ever child's needs. Explore, the procedure of what goes on... Maybe she fears staff, is being bullied, fears crowds, of if you say she has seperation anxiety purchase some books and read. Also attend more social events where she is exposed to many people and let her do things on her own to learn becasue by you attending school for a week or more is only going to enable her and not herl her challenge, not problem. Be patient with her eating lunch in a HUGE cafeteria, can be traumatizing. Now, specially if she is use to Mommy serving her food, rigid rules about spills, getting clothes dirty, eating all food, eating habits such her beign a picky eater, this may also be something you want to explore. Let her help you in the kitchen by preparing smally meals, carrying trays, saying it is ok not to eat all her food etc. Good Luck! :) any questions email ____@____.com

Have a look at carecredit


I'm sorry it isn't covered, doesn't really make sense, does it?

Best wishes,

I think hospitals are required to have charity programs. I would call your local facility and ask for their charity office. If not I would find a hospital that does. I know Loma Linda has one. They also have the children's hospital which has amazing care. You would probably have better luck at most of the larger ones.

Dear K.,
Since your daughter is 18 she is an adult. Medicare could be applied for if she has very low income and also doesn't have many assets of her own.
Perhaps the suggestion about Kaiser would be good. However, I do not know if they have Kaiser coverage in Reno. If they don't, where does your daughter go to school? Does Kaiser have coverage in that area. Individual coverage from Kaiser maybe more expensive than the school insurance, but might be worth it.
Certainly hope you can find funding somehow. 35K is too much. Definitely get another opinion too.
Hugs...you need them:)

My heart goes out to you!! We are currently working on $10k of chiropractic because our insurance doesn't cover it so I am aware of the burden (to a much lesser degree). I don't know of any medical grants but my husband an I got an internet franchise (low start up cost) to help defray the costs by earning a passive income. It is not for everyone and I make no promises of instant wealth but it is the answer to our problem. Send me a message if you are interested in a website to look at. We can show you interactively over the web. If you find a medical grant situation please let us know (all of us at MamaSource) as this would be great information for lots of people.

Good luck, Jacque

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