Planning Ahead For End of Year: Education is the first piece of your marketing strategy
What’s your plan for people with insurance and HSA benefits they need to use up for the year?
We’re nearing the end of the year, and with that comes a HUGE marketing opportunity and chance to grow your practice! As a medical practice, you understand that while everyone's insurance is different, healthcare coverage is typically managed on yearly basis. When each new year begins, individuals typically have to pay a deductible for their health insurance coverage to start over. Once the deductible is paid, insurance benefits take effect and are covered for the next year, according to the individual plan. Each year, the person's insurance typically covers a certain amount of visits or up to a dollar amount of coverage after the deductible is paid. Flexible spending accounts are also of relevance. According to healthcare.gov, “if you have a health plan through a job, you can use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to pay for copayments, deductibles, some drugs, and some other health care costs. Using an FSA can reduce your taxes.” Like deductibles, the money in an FSA is typically authorized for a year.
As a practice it's your job to explain this to your patients and encourage them to use up as much of their medical coverage each year as they can.
It starts by explaining the situation in layman terms to those patients that are new or unfamiliar with the process. If a patient is covered for two teeth cleanings each year, they need to understand that if they haven't used their second teeth cleaning by the end of 2017 and instead schedule it for January 5, 2018, they would have lost the chance to utilize their two allotted cleanings for the calendar year of 2017. They would also be responsible to pay the new deductible for their visit on Jan. 5 since it's a new year.
Once this is properly explained, most patients will understand why they should try to utilize their benefits by the year’s end. The first idea is that allotted benefits go to waste if not used and do not carry over. The second idea is that having a year end visit could potentially keep a patient healthy for a few months until his/her next visit, saving him/her from paying an expensive deductible right after the holiday season ends. The patient will see this as an effective cost savings decision.
But how do you communicate this to your patients?
Before each patient leaves your office during the second half of the year, you should mention this and try to get them to schedule their next appointment before the year's end. Should they opt out, the effort doesn't stop there. Phone calls and reminders are the next step. Keep explaining that their yearly benefits start over as the year ends. Another way to stay top of mind is to send postcard mailers that remind patients of what the year's end means for their insurance.
As a medical practice, it is your job to make sure you are putting your customers first. Reminding them to utilize their yearly benefits is both great for them and great for you. Stay knowledgeable and stay persistent. Be an advocate for your patients and for your business.