Cash-based practices can be a good investment, even for patients with insurance. Contractual requirements from corporate health plans have intruded into the medical provider-patient relationship. Obamacare with its more than 132,000 pages of regulations has added even more layers of red tape creating a bigger wedge between therapists and patients.
Patients experience this wedge when they have to fill out more forms and provide more personal information. They feel it when sitting in waiting rooms much longer than they do in front of a physician. They experience less time with the primary care providers before they are passed on to supportive personnel. They know they are paying more but getting far less.
What are the big benefits for patients?
1. Cost effective careTherapists have the extensive education and training to be neuromuscular primary care experts. For the majority of patients’ with movement problems therapists are the provider of choice. For people with high deductibles, it makes financial sense to pay a therapist for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment.
Fifty percent of Americans will experience some type of musculoskeletal episode each year. Skilled cash based therapists are a third-party-free alternative for self-pay patients.
2. AccessibilityIn most states therapists have direct access. Patients typically have a shorter wait times in a cash practice. Most clinical prediction rules state that the sooner the patient is seen the better the outcome.
Let’s face it, patients are becoming impatient driving around town, filling out insurance forms wherever they go. The busier they are the less tolerate they become with poor customer service.
3. Transparent Affordable PricingFor the self-pay patient finding therapists who offers fair, simple and transparent prices is crucial. Cash based pricing eliminates the added administrative costs when submitting claims to insurance companies. No more “We’ll send to insurance and see what they pay” when both parties know that the charges are coming out of the patient’s pocket.
4. Protected Patient-Therapist Relationship Imagine a practice where that doesn’t demand your insurance card and ID before they say hello. Imagine a practice where money doesn’t get in the way of patients getting to know their therapist.
Taking insurance middlemen out of the equation allows therapists to present themselves as an empathic professional who understands the true cost of healthcare.
5. All Patients Are WelcomeAll patients, insured or uninsured, in network or out-of-network are welcome. Payment is by cash, check or charge. Patients aren’t rejected because of their insurance carrier. Cash practices that are designed for self-pay patients are free from outside interference to address the circumstances and needs of individual patients.
The cash practice alternative seems to satisfy a growing appetite among consumers, especially those who are under 65 and not on Medicare. Today’s healthcare consumer has become embolden to know what care cost and are demanding more transparent pricing.
Just like they do in every other area of their purchasing lives they search online, compare, asks their friends before making a wise purchase.
There is a growing intolerance towards the hidden cost of healthcare. Practices that change their billing practices from the ground up to accommodate the self-pay client will be better prepared for the next generation of healthcare consumers.
Kenneth Mauck, MPT, MS Lead Physical Therapist