Read the Contract

It seems obvious that if there's a contract to review, you AND your attorney should review it carefully. Here are some situations when a contract comes into play.

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Why it's Important to Read the Contract

Very soon, doctors will be graduating from chiropractic colleges throughout the United States. It is truly an exciting time in your career. But if you do not proceed with caution, it could ruin your chances for a successful start.

The contract is a legally binding contract between you and another party. That other party may be an employer, a business partner, a practice management company or an insurance company as in the case of a PPO. Whichever it may be, it is your responsibility to thoroughly read the contracts, ask questions and in most cases, seek guidance from family, peers and/or legal counsel.

Recently, a soon-to-be-graduate, asked me about an associate contract. The pay was not bad, but I noticed that the contract had a 50-mile non-compete clause.

Isn't that too excessive?

Maybe not in the tundra of Alaska, but in a metro area, it may not hold up in court. Time to talk to an attorney.

Are you going to be an independent contractor? You must make yourself aware of the IRS rules as an independent contractor. Are your hours being set? Will the other party involved schedule patients for you? Will they collect for you? Will they provide equipment for you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you most probably will be deemed an employee and not an independent contractor.

When getting into a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) you must carefully read the contract. Once you sign the contract, you are legally bound to follow all the PPO rules and regulations.

The reimbursement rates are not the only criteria to consider. As an example, some Blue Cross PPO plans also control what services are billable and, as in the case of physical therapy codes, who can perform the services.

One recent case with a Blue Cross Federal PPO plan stipulated that trigger point therapy had to be done by the chiropractor and could not be delegated to staff, such as a massage therapist. Since the doctor had several massage therapists performing this service on his orders, it led to a demand of repayment by Blue Cross of several hundred thousands of dollars.

You made an informed decision when you decided to become a chiropractic physician. Using that same investigative attitude may pay off huge in future dividends, a successful career and multitudes of patients benefiting from your care.

The information in the NCMIC Learning Center is offered solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as, nor does it represent, legal or professional advice. Neither does this information constitute a guideline, practice parameter or standard of care. You should not act or rely upon this information without seeking the advice of an attorney familiar with the specific legal requirements of the state(s) in which you practice. If there is a discrepancy between the site and an insurance policy you have with NCMIC, the policy will prevail.