Tired of insurance company hassles, more and more chiropractors are considering making the switch to cash-only practices. Before you cut ties with health insurers, you'll want to fully investigate the advantages and drawbacks of the decision.
Are Relationships with Insurers Helping or Hurting Your Business?
In theory, insurance coverage for chiropractic care is a wonderful thing. Patients receive the care they need, and you're fairly compensated for your services. Unfortunately, the process doesn't always work that way. As reimbursement rates continue to drop and more employers remove chiropractic care from the list of services they're willing to cover for their employees, it can be increasingly difficult to cover your expenses with insurance payments alone.
It's in an insurance company's best interests to make as few payments as possible, since collecting premiums while reducing payouts increases profits. If you're frustrated by claims denials or audits that require you to pay back reimbursements months after you receive payment, it may make sense to investigate a cash-only practice.
Your relationships with insurance companies may actually be costing you time and money and affecting patient care. Completing complicated insurance claims often means that you must hire an employee just to handle billing or spend long hours at the office dealing with paperwork after your last patient leaves. If the insurance company only covers a limited number of treatment sessions, patients may not fully recover, which can be frustrating for them and for you.
Making the Switch
Moving to an all-cash practice can't be accomplished overnight. You'll probably need to allow at least four or five months to make the transition, as you'll need to notify insurance companies and patients far in advance. It's important to emphasize to patients that just because your practice will now be cash-only doesn't mean that they can't take advantage of their insurance coverage. Your emails and letters to patients should explain that you'll be glad to provide a detailed receipt that they can use to submit insurance claims on their own.
Whether you decide to go completely cash-only or simply choose to reduce the number of insurance companies you work with, finding ways to generate cash-based income is very important. Adding new services provides a simple way to augment your income. Depending on your interests, you may be interested in emphasizing:
- Nutrition. Most people know that good nutrition is important but don't always understand how to make changes to their diets. Stand-alone nutritional services that help patients manage diabetes, lose weight or avoid gluten can be a very effective income generator.
- Supplement Sales. Supplements go hand-in-hand with nutritional counseling. Why not make easier for your patients to obtain the supplies they need by offering supplements for sale in your office?
- Massage. Thanks to the internet age, more people are working longer hours than ever, which leads to stress and tight muscles. Marketing your massage services to busy people is an excellent way to boost profits.
- Niche Treatments. Would you like to differentiate your chiropractic practice from your competitors? Find a niche. Your niche could be pre- and post-natal chiropractic care, sports chiropractic treatment or treatments for chronic pain.
Going cash-only isn't necessarily the right solution for every chiropractic practice. Before you make your decision, it's important to consider the tangible and intangible factors that affect your business.
The American Chiropractor: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Insurance Basket!, 12/16 http://archive.theamericanchiropractor.com/issue/20161201
DC Practice Insights: Is a Cash Only Practice a Good Fit?, 6/14 http://www.chirofind.com/mpacms/dc/pi/article.php?id=56999
Chiropractic Economics: How to Become an All-Cash Chiropractic Practice, 10/19/16 https://www.chiroeco.com/cash-chiropractic-practice/