Pet insurance a puzzle? Here are 3 ways to put the pieces together
Kristi Reimer Fender, News Channel Director
Kristi Reimer is editor of dvm360 magazine and news channel director for dvm360.com. Before taking over
If youd like more veterinary clients to avail themselves of this peace-of-mind tool, here are some suggestions to drive up awareness and usage.
Shutterstock.comWhile pet insurance continues to have naysayers who fear it will transform veterinary care into a managed care mess of apocalyptic proportions, an increasing number of practitioners are discovering they actually like it when their patients are insured-and they wish it happened more often.
If that sounds like you, listen up: John Volk, an analyst with Brakke Consulting, has studied veterinary hospitals with high pet insurance adoption rates to figure out what they're doing to make that happen. Here are three of his discoveries, as reported to Fetch dvm360 conference attendees in 2017.
1. Appoint a staff insurance specialist.
Designate a full-time receptionist, hospital administrator, practice manager or communication-savvy technician to be your hospital's insurance expert. If you don't already have your favorite company picked out, ask your insurance expert to research the various providers and pick one or two for the practice to recommend, Volk suggests. This pet insurance liaison should be familiar with the recommended companies and able to answer basic questions.
Bonus tip: Develop a relationship with your local reps-“They will give you all the help you ask for,” Volk says. That might be a pizza lunch-and-learn, free marketing materials or speed-dial access for quick answers to questions.
2. Figure out which clients already have pet insurance.
Each time a client schedules an appointment or visits the practice, ask if the pet has pet health insurance, Volk says-you can also include the question on your new client intake form. Then note in the patient record that this pet is insured. Over time this will provide a census of how many patients are insured and help you measure if your efforts to increase use of pet insurance are gaining traction.
Bonus tip: Record the insurance company and claim number in the patient record. “Believe it or not, clients often forget that they have insurance!” Volk says. Being aware of coverage from the get-go can facilitate decision-making when doctors and team members are discussing options with the client. It's also convenient to keep copies of claims forms with the pet's policy number in the patient file. “Your clients will appreciate the personal touch,” Volk says.
3. Submit claims on behalf of your clients.
This is a controversial stance among veterinarians, Volk says, because many docs feel like they're already swamped with more paperwork than they can handle. But, ultimately, doing this saves the practice time because the hospital gets fewer callbacks from the insurance provider asking you to clarify what the client wrote on the claim form. Plus it helps ensure that claims are submitted in a timely way.
“This is an added level of service deeply appreciated by clients,” Volk says. “When claims are submitted at time of service, it's highly likely that the client will be paid promptly, in many cases before a credit card bill comes due.” And again, if you're working closely with just one or two insurance companies, the process becomes routine and submitting a claim takes just a minute or two.
Bonus tip: Keep a signed blank claim form PDF in your electronic records. Print it and fill it out when you're completing your medical recordkeeping for that patient.
You. Can. Do. This!
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