How To Minimize Medicare/Medicaid Calls for Addiction Treatment - Circle Social Inc

How To Minimize Medicare/Medicaid Calls for Addiction Treatment

Every center complains about it. They buy calls through some call aggregator. It could be online aggregators like,, or TV media buyers like, etc. Or maybe your center has tried its own forays into Google PPC and Facebook advertising and gotten the same results – numbers that don’t connect, angry people looking for free services, or just tons of people with state insurance.

The vast majority of calls from these aggregators as well as from very basic marketing campaigns is Medicare/Medicaid or even no insurance at all. This is surprising as at least 50% of the US populace has private insurance, so you’d expect 50% of inquiries to be the same, but this isn’t the case. At best, 5% of your calls might have insurance, but usually 1-2% is the norm.

That means that, for every 100 calls, you’re lucky if you get 1 or 2 that have insurance. And, of course, there’s no guarantee that you can accept their policy, that they’re willing to fly from their location to your center, or that they don’t call another center and decide to go there instead.

Nobody Likes to Buy from People They Don’t Know

The entire problem with lead aggregators is that there is no branding (read “reputation building”). They have no idea who they’re calling and so have absolutely no investment or interest in your center outside of the fact that you offer services they’re looking for. This is why the conversion rates are so poor and why nobody builds their census off of such call buys long-term.

Centers not only have to pay to generate these calls, they also have to pay to staff their call center. And what happens when you finally get that 1-in-100 call that has insurance you can take with someone willing to fly in, but your admissions rep bungles the call!? Or, worse yet, you didn’t staff your center with enough reps that day. They were on the line with a Medicaid call, while the one with insurance went unanswered because no one else was there to pick up the phone.

With centers closing down left and right and most centers under 50% census, you can’t afford to be taking this many no or state-insurance calls.

Growing Up and Learning to Market Like a Real Company

So what do you do? How do you limit the number of Medicaid/Medicare and no-resource calls?

The answer is one that nobody ever wants to hear. You actually have to have a real marketing and business strategy in place, something with a 6-month, 1-year, and 5-year plan built in.

“What!?,” you say. There is no short-term solution where I can just pay somebody to fill my center for me in a month?

Yes, it’s high time the addiction treatment industry grew up and learned to market like every other industry out there.

Here’s the reality. There are numerous industries out there – insurance, house repair, loan services – that also have lead aggregators that sell leads. Yet, have you ever heard of a person starting an insurance agency, just paying for tons of leads, and growing their business?

Never. Because it doesn’t work. If it was possible to just pay someone to send you generic leads and build a business off of it, everyone would be doing it. All the insurance agencies around us would be raking in millions because all they have to do to grow the business is buy calls. Except, most insurance agencies we know are struggling to break 250K a year in revenue. Hmmm….

As all these businesses learn, the quality of leads from aggregators are crap 99% of the time. Why is that?

Well, it’s not that the leads are necessarily bad, it’s that the person you just paid to talk to has no interest in you. They may have interest in your services, but they have no reason to trust you versus Joe Schmo down the street.

As we probably write in every blog post, marketing and business is all about trust. If people do not trust you, they will not buy your services.

When you buy calls from a lead aggregator, there is zero trust. They don’t even know who they’re talking to. All they know is they asked for some information – maybe an insurance quote, maybe a policy check, maybe information on providers in the area. Suddenly, they find themselves on the phone with some random rep trying to sell them on their program/service.

Would you trust that? Maybe you’ve done this yourself. You’ve filled out some online form for a new auto insurance quote or a roofing repair and suddenly your phone and inbox is inundated with calls and emails.

There Is a Direct Correlation between Cost and the Amount of Trust You Need to Build

Now here’s the other part of the problem. If you were going to pay $4,000 for a new roof, would you just call and buy from someone because you saw them on TV, on a billboard, or on a Facebook ad? Absolutely not.

Because, if we’re going to spend a ton of money out-of-pocket, we’re going to make sure we trust that provider. We’ll search online reviews, ask around with friends and family, compare websites, etc.

Now, change that situation and let’s say you’ve got zero deductible and insurance will cover your entire roof repair. Are you that concerned about who you talk to? Would you be willing to call someone just based off of seeing a single ad on TV, a billboard, or Facebook?

Sure, no sweat. You’re not paying for anything anyway, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Addiction treatment center advertising works exactly like this. If you have Medicaid/Medicare or are looking for free services, you have absolutely nothing to lose. You aren’t planning to pay a dime anyway, so might as well pick up the phone and call someone.

But people with real insurance policies within the outrageously expensive US healthcare system, have large deductibles most of the time. They will often be paying thousands out-of-pocket.

On top of that, we’re not talking about getting a new roof here, we’re talking life or death. Where you go or where you send a loved one for addiction treatment is an incredibly important decision.

So do you think I’m going to make a decision that will cost me thousands of dollars and could be the difference between life or death based off of a single ad? No way in hell.

To get people to make such a monumental decision, they absolutely need to trust you. Now, what most centers have done in the past is tried to play the volume game. Unlike roofing or insurance, addiction treatment margins used to be huge. Most centers could afford to blow huge budgets on marketing for a miniscule percentage of qualified leads.

But that’s not the case anymore. The industry has matured with insurance providers reimbursing less, more competition, and a savvier customer base that’s on the lookout for shady operators.

Focused and Tailored Strategies that Get Results

You can’t just spray money everywhere. There are no magic formula or plug-n-play models that will bring in admits. Every center must have a unique strategy based off of their own strengths.

Now, if you want to make the numbers work, you need to focus your budget to build qualified inquiries. The HUGE mistake that most centers make here is they think it’s about some magical location. If I can just advertise in the area with all the good insurance policies or those high-income cash pay clients, it’ll work.

We’re here to tell you that it will not. We’ve seen it again and again.

So what does work? You need to build a real strategy around a specific audience and show them that you can be trusted. This means narrowing down your marketing to specific locations, like a 50 mile radius around your center, or honing in on a particular demographic like firefighters.

What needs to happen is that you need to consistently market to these people again and again and again and again. Your marketing needs to include these key components:

  • FREQUENCY: Familiarity breeds trust. The more they see you, the more they’ll be willing to establish contact. And this means omni-channel marketing, not just one source.
  • OMNI-CHANNEL MARKETING: Your SEO strategy needs to tie in to your Business Development Strategy needs to tie in to your Facebook Marketing campaigns. If your biz dev reps are in New Jersey, then your SEO and Facebook campaigns need to be centered there, too. DO NOT put your biz dev reps one place and then run SEO or geo-targeted Facebook campaigns somewhere else.
  • SPECIALIZATION & STRATEGIC TARGETING: If you’re marketing to me as a firefighter, I want to know that you understand my unique situation and have a program tailored to my needs. I’m not interested to learn you’re just marketing to me and then putting me in the same damn program as everyone else. A lot of centers run these junky generic campaigns to everyone and their mom. When we take over accounts, we see it all the time. Some happy frappy image of someone on a beach with copy like, “Don’t let addiction control your life. Start the journey to recovery today with Center Name. Call us at 555-555-5555.” You know what that generates? A ton of Medicaid inquiries because only people looking for free services are willing to call some generic crap. Because there is no strategy, tailored audience targeting, or specialized messaging, the campaign speaks to no one. You might get that random 1-in-100 qualified inquiry, but most people will ignore them, because there’s nothing to trust about that ad.
  • TRANSPARENCY & RESULTS: What’s your success rate? How do I know that when you tell me you’re the best program in the area, that that’s actually true? Do you have outcomes tracking with data you can share? Do you have online reviews I can look at? Are there alumni I can speak with who will vouch for your program?The more you share authentic results, especially if they show better numbers than competitors, the more people will trust your program and be willing to give you a try or refer to you.

Building a Circle of Trust Is Everything

This is all really easy to think about when you think about your professional referral partners.  Do you have another treatment center, a criminal attorney, or a local therapist that sends you referrals just because?

Of course not. They know people on your team, have been in your center, and they know you run a good program. This is why they’re willing to refer to you.

The person being referred already trusts whoever is referring them. So it’s just a big circle of trust that drives business results for you.

When running marketing campaigns that generate qualified inquiries, you need to mimic the same process of building a circle of trust. This is why online marketing is so effective. You can retarget, share video testimonials of staff and alumni, create long-form copy, send to blog articles, basically everything that you can’t do with the limited space on TV, radio, newspapers, and billboards, you can do online for a 1/5th the cost.

Remember, a good center has 70%+ of its admits coming from referrals – professional referral partners, alumni, alumni’s loved ones. So your goal with other outbound marketing strategies is to not just bring in additional admits, but to turn both professionals you contact and admits into long-term, trusted referral sources.

And, by strategically marketing to a targeted area or demographic over time, you build a pipeline of future admits. When you just blast massive budgets out into the general populace, you’re always going to be running a numbers game that often doesn’t work.

But when you focus, you catch some of the people looking for treatment now, BUT ALSO the people that will be looking for treatment a week, a month, and a year from now.

By directing focused campaigns over and over to the same people, they get to know and trust you. 95% of those needing addiction treatment are not ready now, so you want to start building trust now, so that they choose you when they are ready.

Tips to Get Results

  • Define your audience and constantly remarket to this same group over time to build trust and referrals.
  • Don’t waste money on call aggregators with no long-term ROI.
  • Forge new paths. Do NOT do what everyone else is doing. Those places are already crowded. Get creative and market to audiences others have ignored or not thought of.
  • Market across multiple channels. Ensure all of your campaigns feed into and build off of one another.
  • Keep all your channels focused on specific places or demographics. Do not market different channels in different locations or to separate groups of people.
  • Plan to invest a minimum of 3 months, 6 is better, for any marketing strategy to pay off. Invest less than that and you’re better off just burning the cash in the fire now rather than frustrate everyone around you in the process of wildly jumping from ineffective strategy to ineffective strategy.
  • Track outcomes and showcase your results in your marketing campaigns.

Let’s be honest, if you knew how to do all of this, you’d have done it already. Want help from real pros that have gotten results for detoxes, residentials, IOPs, and OPs big and small? Get in touch using the form below.

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About the Author

Nick Jaworski is the Chief Growth Officer of Circle Social Inc. Seeing a real need for innovative, ethical recovery center marketing and growth, he launched Circle Social to help the best addiction treatment centers connect with people who needed their help the most. He is also the proud father of the most beautiful girl in the world. You can most often find him sharing thoughts on digital marketing and cracking jokes on Twitter or Snapchat as @NBJaworski.