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Groupon: Is it worth the risk?

By:  Dr. Ray Foxworth, Certified Medical Compliance Specialist and President of ChiroHealthUSA
Published:  May 26th, 2016

Our team is frequently asked if it is legal for chiropractic offices to offer coupons or Groupons. We’re not allowed, as a profession, to dramatically discount our services, offer free treatments, or provide gifts or free meals for potential patients. Any one of these things can be considered an “inducement.” Practices that improperly induce patients to seek care or services, for example, by providing coupons for care or supplies, may find that they are in violation of the law if they aren’t careful.

So what will that mean to you and your practice? It isn’t pretty. If your discounts trigger inducement violations, you can expect to pay fines up to $10,000 per occurrence. That’s a pretty expensive slap on the wrist. This means that a small practice could be just one audit away from serious financial hardship, maybe even bankruptcy.

As it stands right now, chiropractors offering Groupons stand a good chance of running afoul of third-party payer regulations. Apart from legal concerns, there are professional ones as well. What message are we sending to potential patients about our profession? Would someone really use a Groupon for a tonsillectomy, a bowel resection or a knee replacement? When we put chiropractic adjustments on the same playing field as a pedicure, how much value are we placing on chiropractic care in the minds of the public?

Another drawback to offering Groupons in your practice, aside from the legal implications, is a loss in revenue. Often these deals are offered below what it costs to perform the services, and that is even before you consider that Groupon keeps 50% of the revenue from each deal. If you are offering a $49 new patient visit, you will only see $24.50 from each Groupon purchased.

On average, only 20% of the people who purchase these deals return to that place of business. It is very unlikely that this temporary boost in new patients will result in profit. Is it really worth the risk?

We understand the necessity of marketing your practice in today’s market. It’s tough out there. You want to stay competitive, attract new business, and offer affordable fees especially for uninsured, under-insured and partially-insured patients. But rather than take a huge risk offering discounts that may well turn out to be illegal, consider using ChiroHealthUSA instead.

ChiroHealthUSA is a Network that works in conjunction with a Discount Medical Plan Organization (DMPO.) That means you can stop stressing about what you charge for non-covered services or discharging patients from active treatment, because you will be able to offer them safe, legal discounts on maintenance and preventive care.

I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of discounts, but the reality is any doctor who participates in any health plan is already offering network discounts. ChiroHealthUSA allows you to use a similar model in your practice to offer legal and compliant discounts to your patients; no clipping required. 

Dr. Ray Foxworth is a certified Medical Compliance Specialist and President of ChiroHealthUSA. A practicing Chiropractor, he remains “in the trenches” facing challenges with billing, coding,documentation and compliance. He has served as president of the Mississippi Chiropractic Association,former Staff Chiropractor at the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center and is a Fellow of the International College of Chiropractic. You can contact Dr. Foxworth at 1-888-719- 9990, info@chirohealthusa.com or visit the ChiroHealthUSA website at www.chirohealthusa.com 

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