Flip the question on its head.
Would you pass over your debit card details without knowing how much is going to be charged to it?
99.9% of people would say NO.
That’s today’s blog over then.
Or is it?
Because how do you know how much you can charge anyway?
In the case of self-funders, you can charge whatever you want. Contrary to popular belief there is nothing to force you to charge as little or as much as you want. Whether you’ll get paid as much as you want is a different matter for the self-funder has a choice. He or she can either agree to pay the fee you quote or they can decide not to. It’s that simple.
So, consider the following. You are a GI Surgeon and want to charge £250 for an initial consultation. But your colleague GI Surgeon down the road only charges £150. Which is the right amount? They both are. It’s up to the patient which one they accept. I’ve actually known some patients pay a higher fee because a particular consultant saw their neighbour last year and “he was lovely”. Conversely, I’ve also known as patient decline to go see a surgeon because they said the fee was too high compared to those of another surgeon.
The original question however remains. Should you publish your fees?
In the case of self-funders, you should.
In the case of insured patients, you should state – or publish – that your fees will be in line with those stated by the patient’s insurance company.
I once debated this point with a consultant surgeon who forcefully stated it was wrong to publish fees. Why? Because, in his view, it might put the patients off. That seriously worried me. More specifically, the thinking behind it worried me.
If your patient isn’t told how much the fee is before the consultation and then decides, realises or even claims they can’t afford that much what position does that leave you in? Not a very nice one in my view.
Patients do not, however, base the decision to see a certain consultant only on price. There are a whole host of reasons why they chose to see one private consultant surgeon over another. Recommendation. Geography. On-Line reviews. They are just three of many different reasons. An additional reason is of course cost.
But it’s not the only reason.
Therefore, tell your patients how much you charge.
After all, would you buy something without knowing how much it cost?