- Kristin McNealus, DPT, MBA
Make It Easy to Choose You
The health care system is changing. A lot. It is frustrating to us, and it is more frustrating to our clients. It is confusing about what is covered, and co-pays and deductibles are higher. Early studies are showing that less people are utilizing care, and this could be a reason. Honestly, I work in healthcare, and understand the importance of certain tests and treatments. When I needed to have a cardiac work up, I literally had more anxiety about the costs of the tests (because my deductible is so high, it will not kick in until a hospital stay) than about my symptoms. While calling around to get the actual cost from different clinics (since this can vary greatly, like most health care costs) it is difficult to get an actual numeric answer. You hear “it depends,” and “we’ll bill your insurance first,” or “I don’t handle those details.” Don’t worry, my heart is fine; but my bank account was hit pretty hard.
Make accessing your care easy. Have costs readily available for people who know they have to pay out of pocket for PT. When customers arrive, have handouts to outline how to fight their insurance for coverage.
Be transparent about the level of care. If there is a difference in treatment based on insurance reimbursement versus cash-pay, be honest about that. Many people do not understand, nor do they care, that insurance reimbursement is based on codes, and that it can take months to collect, and can even be denied. But they do understand service. After your initial evaluation, let them choose how to progress. “Based on what I found today, your insurance will likely cover 2 visits per week for 6 weeks. With your $25 co-pay, that’s $300. However, there are some techniques I think could work great for you, but aren’t reimbursed. If you would like to come in once a week for four weeks, we can charge you $400 and give you the bills, as well as a letter signed by me, that you can send to your insurance to try to get some reimbursement. I’m confident we can meet your goal either way; I just wanted you to know the options.“
Obviously, this was some arbitrary example. But having a discussion about the care and the cost is part of customer service. People are giving their time to work with you; do not underestimate the desire to give less time even if it means more out of pocket cost. It would be even better if the goal can be achieved sooner. If you have an option available, give your customers the option.