Because today’s medical environment is so dependent on complicated insurance company regulations and complicated billing processes, many physicians are looking for niche practices that allow them to maintain their income standards while reducing their paperwork. One such niche is a cash doctor’s office, which is essentially a doctor’s office that does not contract with insurance companies and instead requires patients to pay cash for medical services rendered. Terminating your contracts with insurance companies and building a successful in-office doctor’s office is likely to take time, and many doctors decide that they need a gradual transition rather than an overnight move from a health plan to a doctor’s office. If a cash doctor’s office sounds like the kind of practice you’d like to run, maybe it’s time you start doing some market research to find out if your practice has the potential to be successful:
* What is the condition of your local market? Are there many uninsured or affluent patients in your community? If you run a medical practice in an affluent community, you may be able to build a large group of patients—even patients with insurance—who are willing to pay money for quality, efficient medical care. On the other hand, if your local community has many middle- and low-income residents with HMO plans that do not provide off-network benefits, you may find that you struggle to establish a cash-only practice.
* Would your current patients be willing to transition to a cash-paying doctor’s office? It’s a good idea to survey your current patient population to find out if they would be willing to continue using your medical services if you switched to a bar doctor’s office.
* Should you continue your contracts with the more lucrative insurance companies? Not all insurance companies negotiate unattractive rates with their panel doctors, and not every insurance company has unreasonable paperwork requirements. They can choose to work with two or three specific insurers while still requiring patients who do not use those companies to pay cash for medical services. It’s your doctor’s office, which means you get to choose who you contract with.
* What medical services will you provide and how much will you charge for them? Some doctors find that they can see fewer patients with a cash-paying doctor’s office, and they also find that they can focus on the specific medical services they enjoy. You may choose to focus on acute medical care rather than chronic conditions, or you may choose to do less diagnostic testing. Regardless of what services you only want to offer your patients for a fee, deciding how much to charge for them requires some research. Ask other doctors, especially other statutory health insurance doctors, in your area how much they charge; There is nothing unethical about it as long as there is no discussion about setting collective rates. You may also want to consider how much your doctor’s office has to pay net to help you cover your overheads.