May 18, 2020
In this episode, Jeremy Zug from Practice Solutions joins the show to explain what’s going on with telehealth during these uncertain times. Jeremy advises on submitting telehealth claims and explains how telehealth is rapidly becoming our new normal. Then, Jeremy gives tips on collecting from patients. As a business, we need to make money. Your patients may be in financial distress, so Jeremy describes what to do in this situation. Stay tuned as Jeremy gives the pros and cons of accepting insurance as a private practice owner.
Jeremy grew up in the Pacific Northwest where he discovered his passion for people. He decided to go to college in Chicago to further develop his skills working with people and pursue a degree in counseling. While in Chicago he worked for a group practice as a practice biller and marketing manager. This initiated his desire to pursue learning about the business of private practice, particularly medical billing. He now lives in Michigan with his wife of 3 years. They both are pursuing their passion for helping helpers maintain sustainable and compliant billing practices. In his free time, Jeremy loves reading, fishing, biking, hiking, and camping.
How can you determine whether your patient’s copay will be waived? There are some excellent resources, but the best way to do that right now is to call the insurance companies. You’re going to want to say is telemental health is covered on an outpatient basis for this patient. Then, give them the insurance information and the date of birth because that will lead the provider representative to tell you what they have. What we’re seeing as a trend is if the patient had telehealth benefits into their benefits before COVID-19, they are covered at one-hundred percent. If they didn’t have those benefits, the patients still have copays and deductibles applying through this time. It’s confusing for many people, but as providers, we can do the best job we can by being as clear as possible. We want to be as transparent as possible with that.
Providers can do a good job as far as lobbying with their government officials on telehealth being the new normal. Telemedicine is effective, and you can reach more people. Jeremy knows that insurance companies often get a bad rep, but this has been an enormous agenda item for them for a long time. Send a letter to your governor, your senator, and congressmen to push for it. Telehealth can also make the lives of the private practice owner easier too. Telehealth will make it more convenient to choose your hours, and therapists can even be available for clients who are overseas.
People need to start collecting from patients – you are contractually obligated to receive it. If the person is out of work, you still have to collect the copay and deductible. As a business owner, you need to treat people the way you want to be treated. If a patient is short on cash, the provider should tell the patient they owe for the service. However, you can offer an extension on their debt.
Another thing you can do is set up a weekly payment plan. That way, the private practice owner knows that that patient will pay. Plus, the patient can budget it into their weekly expenses. We should not feel bad for getting paid for what we do. Think about all the time and effort that you went through to get licensed. People know when they go to a doctor’s office that they are going to owe something. So, when a patient goes to a therapist, they should expect to pay. Jeremy suggests reading the book Against Empathy.
It’s much easier logistically to not take insurance. However, there is a case to accept insurance. Clinically, you can work with populations that you are passionate about. If you work with military patients, that’s a huge client base, and they need it. If that’s your expertise, then do that. At the same time, you will sacrifice profitability. If you take insurance, then you will receive a hit on the money side. Do you want to work with those clinical populations? You will have to weigh that with the profitability side. There is something to be said about access to care and that growing market. Perhaps you can grow your practice faster when accepting insurance – plus, they can be easy to work with. There is a sense of speed and deployment with insurance, and that matters. However, you’ll have to manage paperwork and fuzzy bureaucracy.
Gordon is the person behind The Practice of Therapy Podcast & Blog. He is also President and Founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, PLLC. He is a therapist, consultant, business mentor, trainer, and writer. PLEASE Subscribe to The Practice of Therapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. Follow us on Twitter @therapistlearn and Pinterest “Like” us on Facebook