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The Price is Right

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

How to Choose Your Speech Language Pathologist (SLP): Price

Part 4 in our ongoing series How to Choose Your SLP.


Welcome back from the holiday weekend! We hope you had a wonderful break no matter what you did.


So far, you've learned about Setting, Location, and Philosophy -- three of our six key factors for choosing an SLP who will be the best fit for your child. If you haven't read those yet, check out the links above to see our related posts!


Now, we will delve into our fourth factor: PRICE


Payment Options


While Early Intervention and Public School services are free, private practices or outpatient hospital settings may have different options for payment.


One of the first things parents ask me about is price -- and as a parent myself, I get it! Insurance is absurdly complicated and opaque making it much more difficult to understand what the actual costs will be for your family.


Read on to learn all of the juicy details -- I promise you, it will make sense!

In-Network

Some practices might be in-network for your insurance. This means you will pay a copay for each visit based on your plan.


  • Outpatient clinics, since they are affiliated with larger hospitals, tend to take multiple insurance providers. They have a team of administrators that negotiate with insurance companies and file paperwork.

  • Private practices may take insurance but it can be difficult for smaller practices who have to spend time filing paperwork or arguing with insurance companies over claims. In addition, many insurance companies reimburse providers poorly, which can be difficult for new or small businesses.

In-network providers have to follow the regulations demanded by insurance companies. Insurances will require a diagnosis and proof of medical necessity -- essentially determining that your child needs speech therapy. This means providers must evaluate your child's skills (often focusing on deficits rather than strengths) and must provide support that therapy is needed (often in the form of standardized scores and descriptions of how your child is "below average").


Some insurances will deny claims if scores are not low enough or if they believe that treatment is elective rather than medically-necessary (e.g., speech sounds/accent modification). Some insurance companies may also deny claims for school-age children saying that they should be receiving services within the school system (even though children only qualify for services in their school if it is impacting them academically).


Despite these challenges, finding an in-network provider can make therapy services affordable for families, especially if your child will benefit from multiple sessions per week. Because they are highly sought after, therapists who do take insurance often have a waitlist for services so be sure to ask if a clinician is currently taking new clients.

Out-of-Network

Sliding Scale


But even with superbill reimbursements from insurance, we know that it is sometimes still too much for families. Their child might not be able to receive the correct frequency of services or might not be able to receive services at all if the only option is a private pay clinic.


Talk Time Boston is committed to providing accessible services for families. This is why we have decided to pilot a sliding scale payment model starting in January 2023.


How does it work? Those who CAN pay more (or whose insurance will reimbursement more), pay higher amounts on the scale. And those who would not be able to access therapy or would experience financial hardship, pay less on the scale. This allows more people to access services to support their children's needs.


The sliding scale model only works when people are honest about their financial situation. We, at Talk Time, will not ask you to explain your decision. But we do want to offer some helpful resources to help our families navigate these economic factors (which go beyond simply income).

If you are a family who would benefit from using this sliding scale model, please reach out to us. See our Services page for more information about sliding scale.


Scenario


This is a fictional scenario to help you navigate decisions around the price of speech therapy at private practices.


Sasha

Sasha's family is currently receiving services at an outpatient clinic that takes their insurance. They receive two sessions per week with a copay of $25 for a total of $50 a week. Unfortunately, they had to change insurance due to a new job, and their clinic no longer accepts their insurance plan. After asking around, the clinics in their area have a long waitlist for new clients using their insurance. Private pay is their only option.


Sasha's family has a few options. They can stay with their same provider, perhaps reducing frequency if once a week is still adequate for Sasha to make progress. Or, if possible, they can ask for two shorter sessions rather than one longer session to offset costs. And, if they have out-of-network coverage with their new insurance, they can start submitting for a reimbursement to offset the costs of therapy.


For example --

  • Old cost of therapy: $50/week for two sessions

  • New cost of therapy: $300/week for two sessions (up front)

  • Family submits for reimbursement. Their new insurance reimburses 80% of reasonable rate ($120)

  • Family receives reimbursement of $96/session after 4 weeks

  • Net cost of therapy: $108/week for two session This is more than double what they were paying with insurance.

However, another option would be to look for a new provider that offers more flexibility in terms of payment or treatment model. A private practice with a sliding scale would help minimize up front costs, making the cost of therapy closer to a copay.


For example --

  • Old cost of therapy: $50/week for two sessions

  • Sliding scale gives a range of $100-$150 as a session rate. After assessing their finances, the family chooses to pay $120/session.

  • New cost of therapy: $240/week for two sessions (up front)

  • Family submits for reimbursement. Their new insurance reimburses 80% of reasonable rate ($120)

  • Family receives reimbursement of $96/session after 4 weeks

  • Net cost of therapy: $48/week for two sessions They are paying almost exactly what they paid using insurance.

Ready, Set, Talk Time


Talk Time private practice Alessandra speech therapy

So let's see how Time Boston fits into the Price category.


Talk Time is an out-of-network provider who provides superbills for reimbursement and offers a sliding scale for those who need a reduced fee.


WANT TO LEARN MORE?


Check out our services and our intake process on our website here.


And, if private practice is the right fit for your family, please reach out to us:

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