Sometimes we just can't take "no" for an answer. I've been told too many times, "You can't do that!" Whenever I hear those words my oppositional-defiance surfaces.... in a positive way, of course. There have been times I have been told that a managed care or insurance panel is closed to counseling providers in my location. I stubbornly refuse to take no for an answer.
Norm and I have shared a way to get on insurance panels through the 'back door'. We suggest writing a letter to a client's benefits manager or human resource director. We ask the client to write one as well. Both letters ask to include the counselor on the panel. The trick is to send a copy of the same letter to the provider relations person in the target managed care or insurance company. Both letters go out at the same time. Make sure there is a 'cc' to the Human Resource director at the client's company as well as the Provider Relations person at the managed care or insurance company at the bottom of all letters.
The 'lever' in this strategy is the Human Resource person at the company. The HR person's job is to have a happy, productive worker. The worst that can happen is we are told 'no', but in almost every case we know of, the counselor has been accepted as an 'ad hoc' (one case) provider. I have used this method and found I was kept in the managed care's data base and even sent more clients by them later.
Another 'don't take no' story happened in 2005. UPS, the package delivery giant, wouldn't reimburse professional counselors. We worked through the local UPS branch and had no luck. We were able to get through to the Director of Benefits in their Atlanta headquarters. We were told that since counselors do not have a universal license, and UPS is a self insured company, they did not accept our credential. We asked if they would reconsider if we could show each state’s license and education requirements. Their representative said to send the information and she would review it. ACA’s Scott Barstow forwarded the necessary documents to their headquarters and in two months we received notice that they had reversed their policy. They would now recognize LPCs as mental health providers, covering some 55,000 UPS employees.
So, don't give up! Keep at it! Don't take 'no'! Your persistence will help you succeed. After all, isn't that what we tell our clients?
Norm Dasenbrook and Bob Walsh are counselors in private practice, consultants, and authors (www.counseling-privatepractice.com)