By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Here’s a timely reminder about an often-neglected marketing strategy for the year-end holiday season. And for budget-sensitive families, it can be a helpful financial advantage.
Between now and the end of the calendar year, health services can be the most appropriate and affordable for individuals and families with tax-advantaged Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). What’s more, insurance plan deductible requirements may have been met, and will reset with the New Year.
It’s not that this marketing strategy is new. But, for one thing, it’s an approach that is often overlooked by both patients and providers. And secondly, the sweeping impact of healthcare reform is highly likely to mean health programs will be different in the coming year.
Typically, an FSA has a “use-it-or-lose-it” structure and qualified savings needs to be used before the end of the year. It’s a good time to suggest that patients check their program status. They’re likely to thank you for the reminder since it’s the season for hectic distractions.
People who carefully track their annual medical expenses, or plan for appropriate and allowable/covered expenses under their insurance are likely to want to use their existing medical or dental benefits in the current year.
Another significant consideration—especially right now—is that existing health insurance program details and costs are almost certain to change as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicks into gear in 2014.
The only certainty is uncertainty.
As we prepare this article, many ACA details, insurance exchange rollouts, and effective dates are understandably confusing and may continue to change. It’s not our purpose here to jump into the much-debated issues, but for the typical consumer, including your patients, about the only thing that is certain is the uncertainty.
Reminding patients about year-ending benefits (and likely future changes) will be a timely, helpful and appreciated tip for patients’ financial planning.
This approach could apply, for example, to services such as routine medical exams and screenings, dental services such as orthodontia and vision services, including new or extra prescription glasses or sunglasses. Health FSAs often cover over-the-counter medications and eye care products such as contact lens solutions.
Some of the ways to get the word out, as may be appropriate to your situation, include conversational reminder directly with the patient, opt-in email and newsletter mentions, in-office signs and social media references.
For related reading, see our previous posts, Talk about Benefits for Better Case Acceptance, and The Science of Case Acceptance: Shaping the New Patient Experience.