Mental health practicioners are in a precarious position. Since the beginning of the year, we find ourselves having to chase money that is due us. More and more psycho-therapists are not taking insurance because it is so difficult to get paid. The system is so botched up that unless we get paid in full by our clients, we are often unable to get paid what is due by our insurance companies.
We want to be compassionate and to extend to our clients the courtesy of using their insurance. People pay high premiums for insurance. My preference was for the insurance company to pay me after I billed and if there was a co-pay, for the patient to pay me up front. But unless a psycho-therapist is in a particular network of small practicioners, we have to run after our money from the insurance companies. It is often paid to our patients.
If we charge a $25 co-pay and our fee is $150, that’s $125 we need to collect, the insurance company writes a check to the individual for $125. Then we have to go to our clients and ask them to sign their checks over to us or to write us a check for that amount. This is a brand new practice. Our board has not yet challenged the state to amend this. There have been times when I’ve seen patients who’ve paid a co-pay and told me that they’ve never received money from the insurance company that I’ve been waiting for. And several thousand dollars later, I’ve found out that the person has indeed received the money I’ve been waiting for. And I’ve yet to hear from that patient.
Psycho-therapy ended up being a money-making venture for them.
I’ve been burned several times to the total tune of about $10,000. It ruins the opportunity for others to use insurance the way they are supposed to because it has ruined my trust in the way the business is supposed to work.
As much as we want to do right by our patients, some of our patients have not done right by us. The insurance companies do little to support us. So we’re left hanging.