Q&A: How to write a strong cancellation policy

policies q&a videos Sep 16, 2021

In today's Q&A with our Nutrition Practice Network experts, we answer the question, 'what do you need to know when writing a cancellation policy?'


ANNA: Today's Q & A with the Nutrition Practice Network is all about cancellation policy. There's a million different policies out there, but we want to give you some basics that you should be looking out for. So, Christie, do you want to talk to us a little bit about cancellation policies?

CHRISTIE: Yes. First of all, your practice needs to have a cancellation policy. It needs to be in writing and your patients or clients need to sign it saying that they acknowledge it. I always believe that it's better to be upfront from the very beginning and let them know what the policy is, when they have to cancel, and then what the consequence is should they not do that.

I know that we all have different policies, and so just depending on if you choose to charge, what does that feed look like and do they have to reschedule within a certain timeframe? All of those are perfectly fine and I think it's up to every practice to decide how they want to handle that. Do they want to collect a credit card upfront or not? The biggest thing is you definitely want to keep it in writing. And here's the other part that people get confused with sometimes: it's the individual's responsibility to manage that and to be consistent with that. That's the other thing that I've found too, is to not treat clients differently and to charge some people versus others.

I know that with being in our mastermind group, it has given me the opportunity to ask questions and kind of just make me feel better about the cancellation policy that I have in place and how I collect payments and all of that. And I think that Nutrition Practice Network having those mastermind groups for people to be able to talk to others and to find out what their cancellation policy is, how do they collect payment, how do they do that, what do they do when people don't pay, all of those things are really crucial. So I hope that people really get a lot out of the masterminds just as we have. 

ANNA: Definitely. And I think when you talk about the masterminds, “confidence” is the word that comes to mind for me. I think so many of us, especially if you're starting off in private practice, it's hard to feel comfortable with the money aspect and charging people, especially if you didn't “deliver the service” that day. And so I think that confidence in and getting clarity on your policy is so helpful when you can talk to other private practice owners. So I like that point for sure. And, being clear with your client, I think that's such a great point too. That confidence is important, so you can be clear to your client and, and know what the expectations are from them too.

Hey, Ingrid. I wanted to ask you though real quick. What do you think from an insurance standpoint with cancellation policies and charging a no-show or cancellation fee? Any considerations we need to know there? 

INGRID: Sure. I get asked this question a lot. Anything that is not a covered service can be charged to a patient. So, unless there's some specific rules in a person's policy or in a Medicaid policy, perhaps, which would be based on your state (I think it's pretty rare that there are those specific policies), for the most part, you can charge the patient whatever that is not covered as a covered service by the insurance. So in that case, it would definitely include a no-show or a late cancel fee. 

CHRISTIE: And so, Ingrid, just to be clear, we cannot charge the insurance for a no-show.

INGRID: That's correct. That would not be a covered service. So we wouldn't be charging the insurance for that. We would be clarifying in our policies, as you mentioned, that this is a fee that is not covered by insurance and is charged to the patient


ANNA: Great clarification. I like that. And really good discussion. And we have discussions like this every day in our private Facebook group for the Nutrition Practice Network.

And so that's such a great place, in addition to the masterminds, to be able to kind of figure these things out and niche down on what you want your policies to look like, what we can or we can't do, and again, get that confidence that we talked about. Great question today. Thank you guys for answering for us.

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