How many ways can we say underpaid and overworked?
Apparently, there are many.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors sat at $43,300 in May 2017. Now we all know that working a mere 40 hours is a pipe dream for many, yet if you were to be strategic and lessen your working time, that calculates to less than $21 an hour. The highest 10% of included salaries reached $70,840, or roughly $34 an hour.
Let me repeat that.
Your salary is likely less than that of a truck driver ($73k), a piano teacher ($38.70/hour), and a car salesman ($48.451).
In an effort to increase their earning power, many mental health professionals are strategic to invest time and resources in higher credentials. However, that doesn’t always yield the expected results. In May 2018, highly-qualified psychiatrists were only averaging $105.95 per hour. When you add in the costs of insurance, office space, and administrative time, that figure looks even smaller.
There are only so many hours in the day that you can dedicate to working with clients. However, packing in the hours contributes to stress and increases the likelihood of career-debilitating burnout.
So, the question becomes: How can you be strategic to maximize your income without sacrificing yourself, sacrificing the quality of your services, or sacrificing your income?
The first step?
Free yourself from the restrictive power of insurance panels.
Sure, insurance companies do make your services more affordable and accessible. However, they do very little for your bottom line. Use these strategies to provide high-quality help to more patients, make more money, and enjoy your job like you never knew possible.
Why Insurance Panels May Be the Bane Of Your Existence
It’s important to fully appreciate why an independent health provider may want to reduce their reliance on insurance payment-based services.
Insurance panels limit the amount of money you can make. Most companies work on a percentage basis. They’ll pay a portion of your bill and the client is responsible for a predetermined copay. Regardless of how much you think your services are worth, the insurance company will only pay out what they’ve already decided is fair. If you want their business, you’ll have to accept their terms.
Unpaid Work Time
Your job doesn’t end when the last client leaves. Working on your notes. Organizing appointment books. Filing claims. Plus, you also need to dedicate a healthy amount of time to navigate the web of insurance rules and filing requirements in order to get your payments. This adds up to more time that eats into your profits and makes it harder to break even.
When will you get paid? With insurance companies, the answer to that question can vary dramatically. Negotiating different schedules, banks, and deadlines could leave you guessing about when you’ll be able to afford to pay your own bills. Get rid of the insurance tangle to take control over your finances and gain some regularity with your paydays.
Confirming a diagnosis is a delicate process. The wrong decision could cause the patient to waste years in the wrong types of therapy. However, in order to get paid by the insurance companies, you have to have a diagnosis. Without those ICD-10 codes, your paycheck won’t be issued properly. Disconnect from the medical services mill to provide a healthier patient experience.
Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, paperwork problems occur. When this does happen, it’s almost guaranteed that the insurance company will take the most circuitous route to correction possible. This can lead to long delays or even denied payments that take hours of agony to fix. If insurance payments don’t make up the bulk of your income, these delays won’t have the same life-altering effect.
Like most coaching and mental health professionals, you’re probably driven by the desire to help your clients enact positive change. You may not be able to accomplish this with the number of visits most insurance plans allow. Remove insurance panels and you can deliver the services clients need without worrying about running out of authorizations.
Now that you understand why the insurance payment cycle is hurting your business, let’s talk about some ways to lessen your reliance on insurance companies.
Strategic Plan Beyond the Single-Patient Paradigm
One-on-one attention is the only way to effectively administer most types of therapy, right?
Not at all!
For those who are trying to increase their income and maximize their impact, moving beyond the traditional single-patient-per-hour strategy is imperative to reaching their goals. How can you move beyond the single-patient paradigm?
- Therapists and coaches can hold workshops and lecture series that focus on different aspects of their specialty. This gives them the chance to spread valuable information to more people in less time.
- You can initiate a membership site business that fuses group and individual coaching while tripling your income and impact.
- Instead of spending your after-hours sorting through insurance forms, you can spend that time developing new curricula, writing books and pamphlets to support your groups, or researching new topics of interest to expand your knowledge and impart more value to your clients.
- You don’t have to give up hourly patients completely. A combination of group learning opportunities and private counseling sessions accelerates client growth, increases your income, and usually doesn’t cost much more out-of-pocket for the client than traditional care models.
Benefits of Changing Your Business Model
By disconnecting yourself from the cycle of insurance payment dependence, you open your practice up to astounding growth opportunities. How does changing your business model directly improve your business prospects?
- When you focus on a patient-per-hour pattern, you automatically limit the amount of money you can make. By opening up that same time period to multiple people via membership sites and classes, you suddenly multiply your potential earnings.
- You get to spend more time doing what you love — helping people. Instead of wasting time going through insurance paperwork and fulfilling their requirements in order to get paid, you can focus on offering more comprehensive services and personalized attention.
- Increasing your customer base also gives you the opportunity to improve your brand recognition and public reputation. When people see your name and face on advertisements for classes, seminars, and other group events, you’ll quickly gain an expert reputation that you can leverage into higher hourly payments, more event attendees, and better sales of your original material.
- Being under the control of insurance panels limits your ability to express your message. Bypassing the insurance companies means you can use methods and investigate theories that may not have yet reached the mainstream but are still effective.
- The best part about getting rid of the single-patient paradigm is that you can make more money in less time without needing to hassle with insurance panels. That means, instead of working constantly and frantically to keep up, you can free up more time to relax and enjoy your life.
Insurance panels generally don’t have the best interests of you or your clients in mind. Eliminate the middle man, improve client outcomes, and increase your own job satisfaction by breaking free of the insurance panels and moving your counseling services onto a new path.
Ideas You Can Use to Move Away from the Insurance Panel Cycle
These practical ideas can help you figure out how to offer services to your clients without dealing with insurance panels.
Classes and Discussions
Organize a series of classes. Wellness coaches might consider a series on nutrition, vitamins, and minerals, or supplements. A mental health coach could organize group discussions that focus on common issues like depression and anxiety that offers information on how to recognize, treat, and cope with these ailments.
Online Coaching Program
Start an online program with a hybrid of written and visual content, as well as group coaching calls. Patients pay upfront rather than relying on insurance panels.
Hold a one-day seminar. Remember, these events usually last several hours and take an in-depth look at a single subject. Things like vision boards, dream analysis, goal setting, and productivity tips are easy to present in group settings.
Try a tele-class. Internet streaming makes it possible to put out your message from the comfort of your home or office. As a bonus, you can use taped tele-classes as YouTube videos or free content to lure in new clients who visit your website.
Write a book or magazine article series. This move gives you the chance to do some in-depth research into your field and discover new truths that can revolutionize your practice. It’s also a great way to reach a wider audience and increase your event attendance and embellish your expert status.
Collaborate with other professionals in your area to present a conference or panel talk. By doing so, your potential client base expands, your professional network grows, and you garner new insight into ways you can improve your own practices.
A profitable option is to develop a membership site business. For a small monthly fee, visitors get access to exclusive blogs, articles, videos, and worksheets you’ve developed to support your practice.
Group coaching sessions are a tried-and-true way to reach beyond the single-patient paradigm and insurance panels. Fortunately, you can charge much less per patients to attend these sessions and thus avoid the need for paperwork and permissions. Some companies may allow patients to file for a reimbursement, which means you still get paid without investing resources into form filing.
That said, you don’t have to spend years pursuing a Ph.D. to make the money you need with the job you love. Instead, use a little creativity, take a leap of faith, and formulate a plan to move beyond the single-patient paradigm and improve your profits without sacrificing client results. Still not convinced? Learn more about moving away from traditional insurance-supported practice with this free comprehensive masterclass.