However, I would submit that the reason our patient’s expect something for nothing is our fault, not theirs.
The truth is, we’ve given away so much over the years. And now that we want to charge for things (that have always cost us) like forms, after hour phone calls, and other things, people think we are now wanting to collect for things that they were lead to believe had no value.
Not to mention they often think we are nickle-and-diming them now.
But some practices have been very careful about not falling into this trap of giving away their time and their resources.
Take Village Pediatrics for example. Dr. Gruen and Dr. Gorman charge parents between $150 and $325 (depending on how many children) for a plan they call the added benefits plan. Here is what their website says about the plan:
This modest per-child administrative fee includes services that may be non-covered or non-reimbursed by your insurance company and are typically billed for at other medical offices. Such services include: e-prescribing, unlimited school/camp forms, as well as 24/7/365 access to the doctors without the use of a phone triage service. This fee has allowed Village Pediatrics to offer prompt and personalized care without dramatically increasing our practice volume, dropping insurance plans, or significantly raising our cash fees.
Why would parents pay above and beyond their health insurance premium every year to visit Village Peds?
Because Village Peds from the beginning decided to take a stance and tell parents, what they do has immense value. The time they spend with patients/parents in and out of the examining room is of great value. And if patient/parents want access to Dr. Gruen’s and Dr. Gorman’s valuable time and expertise, parents are going to have to pay for it.
I say, Good for them!! I applaud Dr. Gruen and Dr. Gorman’s efforts in establishing a practice that focuses on providing value worth paying for.
And my guess is that nearly 100% of Village Peds families pay the fee. Because all the other families that didn’t see the value, don’t have their children seen at Village Peds.
Here is the hurdle for me.
When I first read the things Village Peds offers as a part of their added benefits plan, I said to myself, we can’t start charging like they do. Why? Because all the things on that list our practice already provides without getting anything for it.
Who’s fault is that? The patients/parents?
No. This is our mistake.
For those of us in the private health care world, we need to get over the fact that people are going to complain about paying for something they used to get for free. Heck, I don’t like to pay for something I used to get for free either. So we can’t hang that over our parents.
Furthermore, I’d emphasize that it is our responsibility to educate our parents that there is HUGE value in everything we do (both inside and outside the examining room).
If we don’t educate them, parents will continue to expect what they’ve always gotten. Which is something for nothing.
This is something I’m gonna start thinking about more. Especially if the plan is to remain an independent private practice.