I’ve just written a post at About.com about my recent mammogram experience where the breast center I’ve gone to for more than a decade managed to dissolve my trust of their service in the span of one phone call.
Is it possible that they were being honest and I have no reason to lose my trust in them? Yes, of course. Maybe I’ve jumped the gun – or maybe not. But it doesn’t really matter.
Because whether they deserve my distrust or not, I will never trust them again. No, not a chance. (Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me.)
And so it struck me as I was writing that post that the very fact that I have become so distrustful of them suggests a place where advocates can actually create more trust for themselves.
By sounding the warning bells. By sharing the system’s dirty little secrets.
I expect that as time goes on and out-of-pocket costs in the form of co-pays and co-insurance go higher, and the fact that providers are squeezed more and forced to find new revenue streams, we will begin to see more and more ways patients are asked to pay for things they should not have to pay for. The ripple effect can be enormous. And you can be the one person who warns your clients about the possibilities, saving them money, grief, and potential problems down the road.
In my case I was being asked to return for duplicate mammogram images, not because there was anything suspicious about the first ones, but because, supposedly, the technician did not do her job correctly. I will always believe that such a claim is a handy dandy way to allow the testing center to bill insurance twice (keeping in mind that, due to the preventive test section of the new Affordable Care Act, they aren’t allowed to charge patients a co-pay or co-insurance). Of course, anyone involved would deny that’s what they are trying to do. A prime dirty little secret.
I refused – because I don’t want my insurer to pay twice, but even more so, because I don’t want my records to reflect that they found something suspicious – which is what they would have to claim (in the form of CPT codes) in order to get their second reimbursement. And imagine the things they could get my insurer to pay for after that!
These are the secrets you can share with a client. In effect, you are providing them with some “inside information” on how healthcare works that they probably don’t suspect. The fact that you have shared a confidence is something that truly garners trust.
Repeating tests is one problem you can call their attention to. Running unneeded tests is another. (Check out Choosing Wisely). If you know of others, I invite you to add them to the comments below.
Sometimes the best way to build your practice is based on wise counsel a client would not expect – and these sorts of warnings fall into that category. By exposing such dirty little secrets you are benefiting your client, and your practice, too.