Are the uninsured treated differently in your practice?
Posted Oct 14 2008 9:21am
It goes without saying that it’s the portion of payment for healthcare services that the patient is responsible for that is the hardest to collect. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a co-pay or a patient responsible portion invoiced to the patient after services, it’s not easy to move the money from the patient’s pocket to the clinic’s bank account.
This is not to say that collecting from insurance companies is a walk in the park either, but at least insurance companies aren’t sitting across the room from you, benefiting from your services, then realizing that they don’t have the resources to pay. It’s a bit tricky when you’re collecting money from those with whom you’ve helped, and likely have established a good interpersonal relationship.
Patients, as a whole, should absolutely not be held in contempt, as healthcare for the most part is not a discretionary, scheduled service. You get it when you need it, and money doesn’t necessarily happen that way. I know that my responsible portion has drifted beyond the “current” column in an A/R aging report or two, and I think I’m pretty responsible. Sometimes patients just can’t pay their part when they need to.
So how does this drive the practice of medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, and the like? Do doctors, physical therapists, dentists, and other healthcare professionals treat patients differently based on their ability or willingness to pay? Should they? We would all hope not, right?
Well, a few comments found in this post from Kevin, MD show that some providers do admit to treating the uninsured differently, and it might just surprise you.
With some states considering cutting already low Medicaid payment rates, those with this insurance are rapidly joining the uninsured by being treated with preferentially poor care.