What Your Patients Really Want to Know Before Committing to Care
Health insurance can be a source of anxiety and stress for your patients. They don’t always know what their plans will cover in your office. Often, this can also create anxiety and stress in your clinic when your patients receive statements for much more than they expected to pay out-of-pocket.
For any chiropractic practice, this can be an opportunity. Those who are able to guide their patients through insurance issues and provide timely information will be rewarded with loyal patients who are more likely to leave a positive review. Here are the three most common ways a patient may ask about the costs of treatment in your practice.
1. Will my insurance cover my visit?
You can probably count on this question before you even see the patient since it’s the top factor patients consider when choosing a doctor. It’s best to have your front desk personnel be proactive about it. Have them look up the patient’s plan and help them navigate any issues regarding coverage. Advising a new patient to arrive 15 minutes early to the first appointment can give you time to sort through any problems without getting behind schedule. (Associated Press, 2014)
2. Will my plan cover the services or procedures I need?
This might sound similar to the first item, but it’s also an issue that has gotten bad enough that even Congress took action. “Surprise” medical bills, in which a patient receives an unexpected bill after undergoing a medical procedure that wasn’t covered by insurance, can reach exorbitant amounts. (Sullivan, 2019)
Surprise bills often fall into three categories: out-of-network charges, unexpected facility fees, and “balance bills,” which cover the difference between what a doctor charges and what the insurer covers. “A lot of health care providers are not involved in any of these decisions,” says Kristyn Brandi, assistant professor at Rutgers Medical School. “They have no control over how much their clinic is billing for certain things. Even doctors who work in the system every day do not know how to navigate these systems for their own health, let alone educate patients on what they need.” (Paul, 2019)
Again, your chiropractic office can help patients understand these issues and minimize surprises. That will remove some tension in the doctor-patient relationship.
3. How much will it cost to see the doctor?
Your patients are healthcare consumers, and they want to know what it will cost to see the doctor today. Patients are more likely to save money by opting for in-network providers, but policies vary. Every plan, even plans through the same insurance company, covers different doctors, clinics, and other services. This is often because there are different types of plans to choose from. Some patients are surprised to learn that their plan covers things they didn’t expect, such as their chiropractic visits. High deductible plans may cost the patient more out-of-pocket, even when the provider is in-network with the insurance company. Again, helping patients navigate these issues, and gain a better understanding of their plans, goes a long way toward creating patient loyalty and improving patient retention. (Sahnow, n.d.)
The convoluted nature of the insurance-based system means numerous different formulae are used to determine a patient’s costs. Today’s top consultants recommend scheduling a Financial Report of Findings (FROF) with each patient. This single step will help improve patient retention and satisfaction in your office by simply alleviating their fears of receiving a “surprise” bill. To learn more about presenting a successful Financial Report of Findings, visitchirohealthusa.com/frof.