Chiropractic advertising deals on Living Social or Groupon

Chiropractic advertising on Living Social and Groupon has become very popular lately because it has proven to be quite a successful means of marketing. In order to remain compliant, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. First, can a chiropractor offer deals in your state? Each state has its own set of chiropractic rules and regulations, so you’ll need to determine what is applicable within your individual state.  Assuming your state does allow deals to be offered, you must be extremely careful how you advertise it. Why? Well, there are three laws to be considerate of when advertising chiropractic advertising deals: Stark Law, Anti-Fee Splitting Law and Anti-Kickback Law. All of these laws relate to how the chiropractic clininc billing department handles the money.

So, let’s say your chiropractic clinic advertise on Living Social a service valued at $1,000, but you’re offering it at $500. Now, Living Social is going to want their cut, so when you get paid $500 for the services, you’ll need to pay Living Social a portion of that. As soon as you do that, you run afoul of the Stark Law, Anti-Fee Splitting Law and Anti-Kickback Law. Now, typically if the chiropractic patient responding to the ad is not a recipient of federally funded insurance (i.e. Medicare or Medicaid), you would not be subject to those laws. However, most states have their own equivalent of these federal laws. So while you may not be in direct violation of the Federal laws, you may in fact be in violation of similar state laws that do bear the same restrictions. In short, make sure you are honoring both the Federal and the State laws regulating your chiropractic clinic. Violation of these chiropractic laws can result in disciplinary action against your license to practice as well as other non-chiropractic financial and criminal penalties.

With all that said, how does your chiropractic clinic advertise legally on sites like Living Social or Groupon? There are several options here but ultimately it would be advisable to have a good chiropractic healthcare attorney review your chiropractic advertisements before publication.  Generally speaking, if you offer a deal and money does not directly exchange hands and you are not splitting any money with the advertising site, you should be ok. In other words, if you offer a deal on Living Social where chiropractic patients pay $50 for $100 worth of services, and the entire $50 fee goes only to Living Social, you have a sound argument to indicate you did not violate the federal laws identified here. But again, you are recommended to have all chiropractic advertisements, regardless of the value or contents of the ad, to be reviewed and approved by a good chiropractic healthcare attorney first in order to minimize your risk of violation.

2 Comments for Chiropractic advertising deals on Living Social or Groupon

Dr.MM | December 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

At a recent physicians conference we heard all about the ongoing OIG talk of groupon.
Here’s how it worked for me. It was very much a loss. It was a marketing expense.
If massage is 80$ Groupon wanted it first discounted at least 60-75% so it was $35 than Groupon receives 52% (the add credit card processing fees) so that leaves Groupon with $18.20 facility with $16.80 per hour massage in which massage therapist is paid $25/hour by my facility.
So.. Why do it? Marketing expense – have our name posted for 3 straight days on everyone’s iPhone.
We did not “split” a profit bc I lost- I simply paid Groupon to Market my facility.

rdr | February 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Splitting fees has nothing to do about profit. Just because you did not profit, does not mean you did not fee split. I would suggest a legal opinion before going this direction again.

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