Should you take insurance or not?

Here is a guest post from Wendy Pitts Reeves.  It contains lots of wisdom; I hope you get as much out of it as I did when I read it…

I’ve been in practice for almost 2 decades and have done it both ways. In the beginning, I got on every panel I could get on and would take any client I could get hold of. Over time, as my skills and reputation grew, I became more selective about who I worked with (that is, who I felt I could best help), and gradually began resigning from panels. After a stint in public office, I recently returned to my practice full time, and have again taken on a few panels just to jump start rebuilding my practice. I tripled my caseload within 2 months – so that didn’t take long, and I’ll probably trim that list in the next year. My point here is this: sometimes doing a little insurance can help you be more accessible to your market, help you build your reputation and gain experience, and get you on your way. The book by Ackley ( “Breaking Free of Managed Care” by Dana C. Ackley), though, is fantastic for helping you work steadily towards a cash based business (whether you do that 100% from the beginning or not.)

Here’s a few more thoughts:

1. The very best way to have a cash based business is to be the very best therapist you can be. Period. People will pay for what they value. Those who’ve suggested a peer consultation group are spot on. Whether you’ve been in the field 3 years or 30 years, you always have more to learn, and will always benefit from the counsel of your peers.

2. Develop a network of trusted resources you can refer OUT to. At my practice we probably send out more business than we take. We tell folks all the time that we don’t care where they get what they need, as long as they GET what they need. So, we try to give any referral call as many resources as we can – both inside AND outside our practice, and let them choose what’s best. Your colleagues will appreciate the referrals, your callers will appreciate the fact that you are obviously genuine in your care for them, and you will end up with a case load that ‘fits’ you.

3. Find ways to be a presence in your community. Traditional business marketing through trade shows, civic club and chamber membership, etc. works fine. However, if you volunteer for things you care about, get involved in issues that are important to you, and use your professional skills (listening, communicating, problem solving, caring) as a contributing member of your community, you’ll become known, again, as the real thing – and that matters.

Hope this helps, and good luck to you in your newest adventure!

Wendy Pitts Reeves, L.C.S.W.
Founder, Cove Mountain Counseling
An Association of Independent Practitioners
Linked In: Wendy Pitts Reeves

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  1. FaraNita Dunbar, MA, LIMHP /Reply

    Thank you! This was an encouraging bit of sage advice. It’s refreshing to see how successful and transparent you are as a mentor, coach, and influential therapist. I appreciate you continuing to offer this service.

    1. Deborah Legge PhD CRC LMHC /Reply

      @FaraNita – I’m glad you enjoyed Wendy Pitts Reeves words of wisdom.

  2. Edna S., M.S., LPC /Reply

    Dr. Legge, this is my first time viewing your website and I am truly thankful and amazed with the amount of helpful information I’ve gotten. I have been in private practice for a year and a half now and I thank God for the opportunity. My business is growing slowly and I have been able to get paneled with some insurance companies. What I’m running into is how do I go about collecting money for the deductible? Almost all of my clients have high deductibles ($1,000 to $3,000). I collect the co-pay and bill their insurance but it takes a long time for many of them to meet their deductible before the insurance will begin to reimburse me. Should I make it a practice to collect the deductible up front or send them a bill after therapy has ended. If I wait for therapy to end, that could be 6 months to a year depending on each case. I want to work with my clients and help them but as you clearly explained in your brief videos on “getting paid.” I also want to get paid. I really need your help with this matter. I have found out since being in private practice that many colleagues don’t want to help or share information with a babe in the business. Thank you again for sharing!!! I don’t believe I stumbled upon your website by accident.

    1. Deborah Legge PhD CRC LMHC /Reply

      @Edna – I’m so glad you found our site and that it is helpful to you. Getting paid can be tricky whether or not you take insurance. I’d be happy to help you more with that Edna. You would certainly benefit from the Paid for Life Boot Camp. It includes very detailed videos as well as 30-days of email support and a 1:1 coaching session with me to answer your specific questions. It will help you for the life of your practice —

  3. al /Reply

    i liked your site – its helpful. its nice to have someeone from the mental health field who knows the issues and asks the right questions.
    what does on-panel/off-panel mean?

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