Do You Know The Real Cost of “Free” Shoes?

I can’t count the number of times people have called our office enquiring whether we provide “free shoes with our orthotics” or “orthotic shoes”. Our answer is “definitely not”.

The fact of the matter is that some unscrupulous businesses have created a public perception that;

  1. extended health plans should cover regular retail footwear
  2. all clinics bundle “free” shoes with orthotics
  3. the shoes are “special” quality

In reality, the shoes are regular “mall quality”, it’s unethical to bill insurance for standard shoes and you don’t get anything for free! The real price of “free” shoe deals is a compromise in the quality of the orthotic device – meaning it’s unlikely custom-made.

There is no such thing as an “orthotic shoe”. There are custom-made orthotics, which move from shoe to shoe, and there are custom made shoes which are reserved exclusively for people with severe foot deformity. Simply adding an orthotic to a shoe does not make the shoe “an orthotic shoe” or custom-made.

If you’ve been told that you’re getting custom-made shoes for less than $1400, think again (the fact that you selected them from a catalogue might be a clue as well). What you received was a regular retail shoe ($120) with a prefabricated insert ($30), and a bill for $600. That’s a lot of profit for the clinic and expense for your insurer, just so you get “free” shoes!

If you have muscular and/or joint pain of the lower leg;

  1. Seek a qualified foot care professional for an assessment. Ensure that their expertise is in foot biomechanics and orthoses.
  2. Don’t get drawn in by “2-for-1 orthotics” or “free shoe” deals. Quality will be compromised somewhere and if your Insurer audits the claim, you will be declined.
  3. A proper biomechanical examination takes 30-45 minutes. Simply walking across a pressure pad is not an exam. Don’t be drawn in by “bells and whistles”.

There is increasing evidence that certain orthotics produce excellent results for those with pain due to a biomechanical problem of the foot. Until health regulations protect the public in the area of foot orthoses, it requires a savvy consumer to separate fact from fiction. Or in this case, the orthotic from the “free” shoes!


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