David Lisonbee, CEO, Twin Town Treatment Centers
Though informing prospective patients and their families about prerequisite financial, emotional and time commitments and expenses prior to engaging in a course of treatment may seem inconvenient, counterproductive and potentially self-defeating, alternatives betray trust, which is the essential ingredient of any helpful relationship. To mislead and later to recant or to blame the third-party payer for untold costs is manipulative, dishonest and cowardly. For us in recovery, we long ago faced the need to curtail the practice of rationalization and duplicity so as to achieve and maintain sobriety. We also learned to practice these principals in all of our affairs.
Don’t fool yourself, staff and colleagues into believing that providing and billing for unnecessary services or length-of-treatment is justified. If you can’t provide meaningful and necessary services supported by ethical and legal utilization review and billing practices, find another model of rendering services or do something else for a living. When providers financially benefit from unnecessary tests (psychometric, urinalysis, DNA, etc.), experimental or unsubstantiated services (dietary, magnetic, electronic, digital, exotic) and extraordinary charges (out of network balance billing, PPO retail quotes outside of the community standard, etc.), your services and our profession loses credibility. You are also committing insurance fraud.
Paying or accepting fees for patient referrals creates a marketplace where human needs, human beings are being placed on the auction block. Auctions are a place for cars, art, real estate- putting someone and their insurance coverage up for bid through marketing and call-center processing destroys the very foundation of work. Rather than cherishing the humanity in each person in need, their vulnerabilities and financial assets are exploited. Such acts of exploitation corrupt any attempts at rendering help- trust is violated and people become as objects.
Treatment should be based on the elemental principal of effective therapy: TRUST. Building trust requires that our actions are always trustworthy. Respecting the people who ask us for help includes recommending services which are accessible, affordable and appropriate to their needs. Call centers and referral fees diminish patient identity and places patient need below financial incentive.