April 14th, 2013 at 9:50 pm (Alternative Medicine, Chiropractors & Chiropractic, Cold Laser Therapy, Evidence Informed Chiropractic, health insurance, Medical Ethics, Patient Information, Responsible Chiropractic, Rochester, Soft tissue, Spinal Decompression)
I recently had a new patient encounter that went something like this…
Stressed and in pain patient (SAIPP): “Dr. Daly, I think spinal decompression would be very helpful for my pain but I cannot afford the $3,000 down payment. “
Me: “The WHAT?!?!”
SAIPP: “Well I went to another Chiropractor and they told me they would be happy to help me, but that I needed to sign a contract for treatment and pay up front”
The face is slightly exaggerated (my eyes aren’t blue), but It’s hard for me to come up with any other initial response. And seriously, I’ve had A LOT of opportunities to work on it.
The story seems to repeat regularly. People will hear about a new and exciting therapy for their pain, often including one of the following; chiropractic manipulation, spinal decompression therapy, low level/cold laser, soft tissue mobilization/treatment, traction, etc. The advertisements sound promising, and after they visit the advertising office they find out the treatment costs $3,000 and requires a three time a week treatment plan for 6 months. They will assume that the $3,000 one-time payment is needed for the treatment, and will go ahead with the expense in hopes of relief. Many of them are unfamiliar with chiropractic and assume that all chiropractors require the same investment. Not knowing their options, the SAIPP (read above) will end up buying into an expensive plan that is not covered by their health insurance. I’ve heard this frequently and I’ve tried to shrug it off, but it is getting ridiculous.
Patients of the world: do not be swindled. Spinal decompression, spinal manipulation, cold laser, soft tissue work, and just about everything else doesn’t require months of mandatory treatment and certainly DOES NOT require prepayment! Our office, (along with many other ethical offices) offer the above treatments as needed or as part of a treatment plan at the standard office fee which is covered by most insurance plans (40-50$ per visit around here). Why? Because we do not need to guarantee your return! If we are careful with our diagnosis and utilize the appropriate treatment you should want to come back. If you were unhappy and didn’t like chiropractic treatment; I’m sorry I couldn’t help you, and I will be happy to refer you to someone who might be able to. There’s no paying in advance for treatment here.
Unfortunately patients who have been duped by his business strategy often have a jaded view of chiropractors, and with good reason. They also have a significant bill that their insurance didn’t pay for, and if the treatment wasn’t helpful they could still be struggling with chronic pain. After finding out they can receive the same treatment for much less, patients are usually a frustrated combination of happy and angry: “hangry”. Most people aren’t too happy to pad someone else’s wallet with their own money.
Prepayment is a great way to make a buck. You advertise extensively, make sure patients are desperate and come to you in pain, and corner them into an expensive treatment plan. It walks the borderline of ethics, but is an ingenious way to make money. People who are scared and in pain are often willing to spend money for anything that will help! I’m just not certain who this treatment is benefiting… it doesn’t seem too patient centered to me.
I love what I do. I offer a specialization in healthcare that is sorely needed. People are often amazed to hear that their back, ankle, elbow, or neck pain can be treated easily without medication or surgery. But I do not like how some of my colleagues operate. So stop. Seriously, it makes us all look bad. If you are in pain and think a chiropractor can help, do some shopping. You should never be forced to pay absurd amounts of money or get involved with ludicrous treatment plans to find relief. There are many of us out there who are looking out for our patients, not for our wallets. – Dr. D