I haven’t kept it a secret over the years that for a variety of reasons, I run an exclusively cash pay therapy practice.
Which raises the question: What do I do if a potential client contacts me and asks whether I accept their insurance?
I noticed a couple of comments lately asking me what I do in these situations. Specifically, folks have asked how I “convince” insurance-based clients to pay cash for my services.
I have some thoughts about this that might surprise you!
If you’d like to learn how to tell clients that you don’t accept insurance in a cash pay therapy practice, then keep reading.
This may surprise you
I’m going to cut straight to the chase on this one and tell you how I convince insurance-based clients to pay cash for my therapy services: I don’t!
Let me be clear about something: just because I run a cash pay practice, it doesn’t mean I’m anti-insurance or I don’t want clients to apply their insurance benefits.
If I was looking for a therapist and I was able to find someone who was a good fit, accepted my insurance, and was able to see me in a reasonable time frame, why would I have any reason to pay 6 times my copay amount (or more!) to see someone else who can offer the same thing?
How I Respond to Clients Asking to Apply Insurance in a Cash Pay Therapy Practice
So when a potential client contacts me for an initial phone screen and asks whether I accept their insurance, I kindly let them know that I don’t accept insurance. I then direct them to try contacting the number on the back of their insurance card for a list of therapists in their network.
When I tell clients that I don’t accept insurance I let them know that they have the option to explore scheduling with me as well if they choose, but I genuinely want them to find a therapist in their network who is a good fit.
There are several reasons why I opt for this approach:
1. Power Dynamics
Most importantly of all: if I kicked off a potential counseling relationship by trying to “convince” someone to pay my cash rate, I’m already creating a precedent in our relationship where I leverage power over someone who is potentially in a highly vulnerable state. I have no desire to encourage any such power dynamic in the counseling relationship.
2. Build Trust
Imagining myself in the client’s shoes: if a potential therapist or dentist or doctor for that matter tried to convince me why I should pay more for their service, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth and make me not want to book with them, even if otherwise I might have been open to paying more for the right service.
Instead, I trust that the value I offer speaks for itself. If a client books with me simply because I convinced them to do something they didn’t really want to do, that’s only going to create resentment every time I charge them for our sessions. This really isn’t for their benefit.
3. Allow the Value to Shine
Clients who can afford my cash rate and who see the value added of paying a premium for counseling don’t require convincing. This is where all of my marketing strategies pay off.
If people didn’t know anything about me except that I practiced nearby and my rate, then they would shop around for the lowest rate. But if my marketing materials make crystal clear how I can uniquely help someone solve their problem, many folks will choose to still book with me because they believe I can help them.
4. I Don’t Need To!
I think the felt need to “convince” potential clients to pay a cash rate instead of finding a therapist who accepts their insurance is often motivated by a scarcity mindset: We’re afraid that if we don’t convince these folks to meet with us, then our practice won’t fill up or maybe we’ll eventually have to be willing to bill insurance for our services.
But I just don’t buy this mindset.
As I’ve talked about in previous videos and blog posts, a small caseload isn’t a sign that you’re charging too much or that the market is oversaturated or anything along those lines. A caseload that’s smaller than you’d like simply reflects something is off-kilter with your marketing strategy.
If telling clients that you don’t accept insurance isn’t right for you, you have other options.
Of course, this is simply my individual perspective. But, if you are feeling like you “have” to convince insurance clients to pay cash in order to fill your practice, I do believe you have other options that are better both for you and your ideal clients.
It is definitely possible to fill your practice – even an exclusively cash pay practice – without having to do any kind of convincing 🙂
I hope you found this article helpful if you’ve been unsure of how to tell clients that you don’t accept insurance or if you’ve been feeling like you need to try to “convince’ potential clients to book with you in any way.
You can watch my full Youtube video where I explain how to tell clients that you don’t accept insurance here:
If you’d like a little help getting off of insurance panels, you might like to check out my video: How to Shift from Insurance to Private Pay Practice
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.