How To Handle Calls About Insurance

A woman on a phone, using her laptop to talk to insurance providers.

One of the most important decisions you make as a private practice is whether or not to accept insurance. Having decided against it, you’ll need to be prepared to handle calls from prospective clients who are interested in paying with insurance.

These initial calls are rarely the place to push cash pay options. Instead, make the client feel comfortable, discuss your services, and guide them on their next steps.

How To Handle Calls About Insurance

If you don’t accept insurance, your instinct is might be to try and convince prospective clients to pay cash. This strategy is rarely going to work, and when it does, you might find the hard sell has created an uncomfortable imbalance in your relationship.

So, how do you handle calls about insurance?

Begin By Listening To Their Story

The first thing to know when handling a call about insurance is to treat it like any other call. Prospective clients aren’t always going to lead with their payment plans. 

Instead, they’ll want to establish the kind of treatment they require and how you can provide the right help. Make the client feel comfortable on the phone call by listening to what they have to say. Don’t jump into payment options and why cash pay is best. 

Treat the call as if it’s any prospective client by showing compassion and an open ear. You’re more likely to convince them to sign up for a session by listening than by hard-selling cash payments.

Discuss Your Practice And Availability

Even if it might not work out, this phone call is still a good opportunity to discuss the benefits of your practice and you as a therapist. 

Although you don’t want to pressure the client into choosing cash pay, a brief discussion of your qualification might convince some who are on the fence.

Again, this isn’t about pressuring the client. Instead, you want to present the value of your services as a viable option. Don’t focus on the money, but shine a light on the benefits of your practice. 

Many clients will only be able to afford a co-pay and won’t be convinced by cash pay no matter how good your service is. 

However, for those who are weighing up their options, this is a good chance to emphasize the quality of your service. They might not be convinced right away, but after shopping around, will come back to your practice.

Refer Them To A Colleague

By this point in the conversation you should have an understanding of who the client is and what they’re calling for. If you can, try and refer them to a colleague you feel will meet their needs.

It won’t always be possible to make a referral. You might not know anyone who accepts the client’s insurance, or you might not know someone with the right specialization. However, if you can make a good referral, then do so.

Refer Them To The Insurance Agency

Finish the conversation by directing the client to call their insurance agency. You don’t want their journey to end with this phone call. By giving clear instructions, you can help nervous clients take the next step.

How Not To Handle Calls About Insurance

Fielding calls about insurance when you don’t accept insurance can be awkward, and both you and the client can end the call feeling unsatisfied with the result. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What might you have been doing wrong during a phone call about insurance?

You Push Cash Pay

Pushing cash payment to try and convince a client to work with you is never the right strategy. A lot of the time, a client will have already made their mind up about how they’ll be paying. For many potential clients, cash pay simply won’t be an option.

Pushing cash pay will erode any potential trust between you and the caller. They won’t listen if you later try to direct them to a trusted colleague, and they won’t get back in contact if they decide cash pay is a viable option.

If you do manage to convince a client to abandon their insurance, doing so might create an uncomfortable power dynamic

The client is potentially in a vulnerable place and you pushed them to a solution they weren’t comfortable with. It will be hard to build a successful relationship from this.

You Don’t Discuss Options

Reaching out to a therapist can be a tough first step. Having made the effort to contact you, only to find out you don’t accept their insurance, some vulnerable clients might end the search immediately.

As a therapist, your number one goal should be to ensure that every client gets the best help they need. Try to direct them to a trusted colleague. If this isn’t possible, guide them through contacting their insurance to find a therapist that meets their needs. 

Referrals can have immediate benefits, as your colleague might return the favor with another client. They also have a positive impression on a client. 

Should they consider cash payment in the future, they’ll remember your help. They might even refer a family member or friend to you!

You Didn’t Sell Yourself To The Client

This initial phone call might not be the end of your interaction with the client. You don’t accept their insurance, so they look elsewhere to find a suitable therapist that does.

However, that search might prove to be fruitless, and the client is now reevaluating their options. That initial phone call might come back into play.

If you brushed off the client, failing to listen to them while also not discussing your own practice, they’re unlikely to consider you now they’ve expanded your payment choice.

Final Thoughts

Pushing cash pay is unlikely to land you a client who prefers insurance and pushing too hard can create an imbalanced relationship with the clients you do convince. 

Instead, handle calls about insurance by discussing what the client needs, what you can provide, and guiding them on their next steps.

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