Rising healthcare costs and the health insurance industries continuous push to maintain high profits have lead to higher and higher copays. Especially in PT where insurance companies aren't really sure what they are paying for. It's not uncommon for me to have patients come in with insurance benefits that require a $25-$35 copay per visit. Plus, there is usually some arbitrary visit limit to boot! Many patients balk at this, and our first reaction is to sympathize with them and help make excuses why they don't have to come in, or don't have to come in often. Is this the right approach, though?
A colleague and I just had a conversation today regarding this, and Larry Benz, coincidentally, posted his opinions related to copays over at Evidence in Motion. I won't cut and paste what he states, but I will express my take on the issue.
Do not make excuses for a patient's insurance copay. If you think it's too expensive, then did they really need to be in to see you in the first place? If they need your services, then don't be afraid to let them know and provide them with that service.
In the end, if you are providing quality, outcome oriented, evidence-based treatment, then you should let that prospective patient know that and then give them their moneys worth for treatment without letting that high copay rule over you.
Many of us (physical therapists) find the overbearing control of the AMA difficult and stiffleing to what we see as professional autonomy. What most of us don't know, is that it was PT's that gave MD's the power over us. Beth Linker in the Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 17 No. 3 explains:
By 1935, the APA relinquished to the medical profession what little self-regulatory control it still maintained. In 1933, it gave the AMA’s Council on Medical Education complete power to accredit physiotherapy schools. In that same year, physiotherapists turned over the task of setting up a national registry to medical men in the Congress of Physical Therapy. As part of the agreement, the Congress required that physiotherapists be called technicians and give up their private practices to work under the direct supervision of medical doctors.
Power is like money. Once you freely give either to another person, asking them to give it up is a very thorny proposition with a bleak outlook for success.
Friday fun. Great week everyone. High fives to you all!!