This is a tough one!
As practitioners, we are hard-wired to help people and generally have some of the biggest hearts on the PLANET! The last thing we think about is getting paid! Frequently, patients ask for a discount to our services or sliding scale or tell us they are stopping care or can’t start care due to lack of money and we therefore, take them at their word and want to offer a discount. Here’s a few things to consider:
What does discounting your price say about how you VALUE your services and will this affect your patient’s view of your value?? Unfortunately, our culture decides if something is good, bad or better BASED ON PRICE! For example, when was the last time you chose to see a gynecologist based on price? Did you decide on Chinese Medical School based on price or where you thought you would receive the best education? The vast majority of people, especially when it comes down to their health, will only VALUE your services based on what you charge.
Value is about perception and the more something costs, the more we perceive it as having value. It’s not about the money, but how it’s PERCEIVED as representing something WORTHwhile. Even this word, “Worthwhile” is a fabulous example of how the cost of a thing is worth doing it!! On the other hand, Low price… low value. In our culture, we often ask “is it WORTH it? This is the perfect phrase that illustrates my point. Frequently, we make decisions that are not comfortable economic choices BECAUSE IT’S WORTH IT!! I didn’t make the rules, I just know ’em.
EXAMPLES FROM MY PRACTICE
Years ago, I had a gentleman tell me he had very little money and needed a discount. So, being a compassionate practitioner, I reduced my price by half for several months, at which time he ended care, only to have him return to care in 6 months telling me about how many symptoms he was having again “since he and his wife and 3 children had returned from their 3 week family in the Bahamas scuba diving every day!” By the way, I never would have guessed this gentleman had those resources given his demeanor and clothing.
Another example was a woman crying in my office about her pain, but not enough money and could I please reduce my fees, and then later had her come in paying in all cash “from the vault of money her husband keeps as a partner in a law firm!” Additionally, the husband had come in to her Report Of Findings dressed in old, torn shabby clothes, which was fine, but the point being that visually there was no way of knowing he was a partner in a law firm.
TO YOUR SUCCESS!!
Caroline & Bryan