Breaking news! Today there’s front page, above-the-fold, top o’ the scroll, shout it from the bandstands news – major, major breakthroughs in the economic shutdown that’s paralyzed the country for the past couple of weeks. CNN Money announces in its boldest, biggest font: Congress has just raised the debt ceiling. While Democrats and Republicans are pausing their scuffles to “raise the roof,” we’re putting the question out to you. Should you raise your own debt ceiling?
How many employees can you afford to lose?
When the shutdown first clamped its doors on the American people, television standups and comedy hosts had a ball joking about all the “non-essential” workers. In your business, staff is your lifeline and lifeblood. Your people are certainly not “non-essential.” But, if you’re unable to pay them – which may be a long-term effect of not being paid for your services and going into debt – you’ll end up losing them. And in the long run, your practice can suffer. Do you think going down from three phlebotomists to two won’t be a big deal? See what happens when one is scheduled for vacation and the other has a sick child at home.
Do you enjoy pro-bono work?
Your specialty may not typically be one that contributes time, effort, and resources on a donation basis, but in effect, that’s what you’re doing when people don’t pay. In fact, you’re actually losing three times over:
- You don’t have the immediate payment you’d traditionally receive.
- You’ve lost the potential to reinvest the payment back into your company.
- You’ve lost the time of whichever staff you assign to try to reclaim your payments.
In effect, you’re working for free. The higher your debt ceiling, the more pro-bono work you’re doing.
Do you enjoy uncomfortable relationships with your patients and staff?
Payment recovery can be an acrimonious process. Some patients, considered “skips” (as in, skipping town), take their medications and run. They don’t want to be found. So when your personnel do find them, they’re … shall we say… unpleasant. Do you want to ruin your office manager’s day because she had to attempt to coerce someone to pay his bill over the phone? Do you want a good, long-term patient who may have struggled with a financial issue to leave your practice because he or she is embarrassed about the bill and can’t face talking to someone there? The higher your debt ceiling soars, the more you have to consider options for collecting debt outside your practice. Higher debt ceiling, higher stress, higher anxiety, higher staff disillusion. Lower debt ceiling… you get the picture.
Do you want to work harder, not smarter?
Did you hear about the special, secret gym that stayed open during the shutdown, despite thousands of workers losing pay, national parks’ gates slamming closed, and a crashing stock market? Despite not having to work, Congress members were able to shake off their stress by pounding a treadmill or lifting some weights. No one’s going to accuse physicians of slacking off, but most people would happily grant their doctors time off to enjoy healthy pursuits. Unfortunately, when you raise your debt ceiling, you have to work harder, longer hours. After all, you’ve got to refill the coffers somehow. You’ve got to administer services to your current, paying patients and try to track down the delinquent ones, all while attempting to admit new patients to make up for the losses. Time with family, friends, or your hobbies? A higher debt ceiling just raises that right out of the picture.
It’s clear that there’s nothing positive to raising your own debt ceiling. Your business is not the government and we’re pretty sure you don’t have trillions of dollars to tap into and hoards of “non-essential” personnel waiting in the wings. And while it sounds like major structural renovations, we suggest you look strongly toward lowering your debt ceiling. Minimize debt as much as you can – it’s money you and your staff have earned. Start here, by downloading our free eBook on how to manage patient payments. It’s your first step in lowering your debt ceiling, no rickety ladders required: