Chiropractic Patient Financial Plans
By Dave Michel
Jan 3, 2007, 11:42
Are your patient financial plans ready for a changing market? Patient financial plans, and how they are presented, should be carefully reviewed as an important part of your chiropractic marketing plan for the New Year.
According to the Treasury Dept., the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) will continue to increase and by 2010, is expected to cover 25-40 million people. Other reports discount this prediction and say that HSA's have not taken off as expected because the cost is still too high.(link) HSA's are accounts, funded with pre-tax dollars by the employee (and sometimes the employer) are an individual savings account coupled with a high-deductible insurance plan. With deductibles rocketing well over $1,000, the HSA option gives the employee pre-taxed money to spend on health related purchases ranging from eyeglasses and braces to massage and acupuncture. The money can also be used for regular medical bills, of course.
The effect of the HSA (and the related flex-spend account) is to make healthcare consumers (your patients) much more aware of costs and prices. A direct result will be patients interested in a deal or cost-savings. As someone who has an HSA personally (with a $3,000 deductible), I am more aware than ever of what each service costs.
Couple that with recent lawsuits nationwide against health care providers that have charged “cash” patients more then insurance patients. The State of Wisconsin recently settled with three major health care systems (ProHealth Care, Wheaton-St. Joseph Hospital and Wisconsin Heart Hospital) to ensure that the discounted rates provided to insurance carriers would also be passed on to patients that are paying out of their own pocket. Makes sense, given the changes to the health care market and our “health insurance crisis”.
For example, a chiropractic clinic may charge $125 for a 99213 exam. If they bill that service to Blue Cross, their provider agreement results in a $52 reduction (for example) with the patient responsible for 20% of the remaining $73 approved charge or perhaps a $20 co-pay. If the clinic billed the same $125 to worker’s comp, there may be a 10% reduction off the fee for “prevailing charges” or UCR reductions. (As an aside, don’t you wish you could do that to your plumber?) Now if the insurance denies the whole charge or if the patient has no insurance, the patient is responsible for the $125 charge. It really isn’t fair if you think about it.
In order to avoid this, clinics, hospitals and doctors have come up with financial plans that try to even this out and stay within the law. As a practice management and marketing solution, ProHealth Care has agreed to provide some charity discounts to patients with income up to 400% of the federal poverty level – about $66,400 for a family of three. Froedtert Hospital, Community Health and Columbia St. Mary’s all have similar plans, giving uninsured patients a 20% discount and another 20% if they pay their bill with 30 days.
Have you reviewed your chiropractic patient financial plans to attract the most patients possible? As a chiropractor, you can appeal to some by offering discounts attached to using their HSA or flex-spend plan. That is as easy as allowing a patient to pre-pay at a discount. The same plan can be extended to any patient paying at the time of service or in advance.
Do your patient financial policies address the real needs of your chiropractic patients while still maintaining your profitability? Do your financial plans help you attract the types of new patients you want to see? This is an important element in chiropractic marketing, new patient acquisition as well as patient retention. Make sure you review these as the New Year begins and feel free to contact us for ideas or fine-tuning.
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