How do you talk to your patients when it comes to insurance issues?

I wanted to write back and let the rep know that I’m not supposed to know all the work they have to do or is involved in my request.

Customer Service
Customer Service

Last week I contacted the web hosting company we use for our site. I wanted to add a feature to the practice’s website. I received an email back from the company explaining their fees for the extra feature. I felt they were charging too much, so I emailed them to let them know my thoughts as well as asked why the extra feature cost so much.

The next day, I received a patronizing email from the rep stating, if I knew anything-about web marketing and how to increase visibility (with the services they provide), then I would understand the benefits of their service and how it would outweigh the cost. She also mentioned that there was a lot of work in my request and also said their prices were reasonable.

I understand that sometimes email messages can be misinterpreted. One does not have the benefit of tone, facial expressions, etc., but the email felt condescending. My interpretation was, you think our services are too expensive because you have no clue about what we do.

When dealing with customers, one often gets offended because our jobs and companies are very personal to us. I’m guilty of this. When parents complain about my staff, my doctors, my billing department, or anything else, I take it very personal. And in the past, I ended up getting into lengthy – unproductive – discussions with parents. I’ve taken a different approach now.

I wanted to write back and let the rep know that I’m not supposed to know all the work they have to do or is involved in my request. I wanted to ask her, how I am supposed to know how their services would give me a return on my investment.

Why not take the time and show the customer the value in the service you provide? Show him how much the services are worth relative to the price he has to pay. She may have convinced me. Instead, she chose to get personal.

Not only did she miss an opportunity to educate me about her company’s services, but she also missed the opportunity to reach out and establish a connection with me, her client.

I started thinking if our practices treated patients like this. Were we condescending and patronizing? Do we expect patients to “know?”

One area I think practices may fall into this trap is when discussing insurance issues with patients. Fact is most people do not understand their health insurance policies. Patients/parents have heard about co-pays, coinsurances, deductibles and copayments, but they really do not know what it means, why they have these things and how it is going to affect their care.

Despite telling patients it is their responsibility to know what their insurance covers (and does not cover) most people do not bother to find out. They find it confusing. And who can blame them?

Instead of telling patients they ought to known everything about their health insurance coverage (or lack thereof most likely), take the opportunity to educate them. Advise them what they need to do, whom they need to call and what they need to look for in coverage; for example, well visits, preventive care and immunization coverage which is often missing in many insurance policies.

We may not have all the answers and maybe we can’t help patients navigate thru the insurance maze, but if we can find ways to put the “care” back in health care by helping patients with other things outside of their clinical care. We will strengthen our relationship with our customers/patients. Simply put, it is good for business.

3 thoughts on “How do you talk to your patients when it comes to insurance issues?”

  1. Hello:

    I just did a lecture last weekend about this exact issue. We do need to take the time to direct our patients when it comes to insurance coverage. If you work in a doctors office you have more knowledge of how insurance works and by sharing this with your patients they will appreciate you much more. You are building bonds with them.
    It just takes a few minutes, yes, I know we are busy, but if we are too busy to help those who will refer their friends and family to our practices how will they look at us? We are there to help with their healthcare needs and that may mean being able to direct them when it comes to an insurance needs.

    1. Tina,

      I often hear docs and a lot of billing people say that as far as they are concerned, the patient’s crappy insurance is not their problem. And my thought is, if you’ve provided a service and the person has crappy insurance, it is your problem.

      Thus, taking an active approach in teaching patients about their insurance actually helps offices down the road.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Brandon

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