As a small business owner who provides mental health services, searching for the best merchant account service/payment processing service can be a daunting task! I know that I needed to ensure efficiency and productivity, but what other features do I need to ensure optimal success as a business owner and a psychotherapist. I accept both insurance and private pay clients. As such, the amount of money collected from each client differs depending on their co-pay and if they are paying the out of pocket/out of network rate that I charge. So for me, finding a merchant account service that meets my needs is essential. Also, as a psychotherapist, by accepting a diverse array of payment options, I needed a merchant account
provider that is easy, quick, and effective. I've discovered that the following 4 features are essential to selecting the appropriate merchant account service. Perhaps you will also find these features helpful as you search for the best merchant account provider for your small business (i.e., private practice).
1. Speed- We all desire faster payments. Some merchant account services, such as Square, can deposit your charges as soon as the next business day, and for an extra fee, the same business day. So if speed is what you desire, Square is worth taking a look at, however, given our business, I've found that Square doesn't accept some FSA/HSA debit cards. So if your clients want to use their FSA/HSA account, some of the cards will decline them as they cannot verify that you are indeed a "medical" business/entity (despite the fact that your setup in Square has your NPI and TIN). This brings me to the next feature.
2. Account Integration/Acceptance- It is important to find a merchant account service that will not only connect to your business banking account, but that will also accept a vast array of credit cards, including HSA/FSA cards as payment. Square falls short in that category. Some EHR/Practice Management Systems however, allows for better integration as ones such as TheraNest, Therapy Notes, and TheraSoft (to name a few) all will process a wide array of payment options, including HSA/FSA credit cards, however, they fall short in speed of payment, many taking anywhere between 2-3 business days to remit payment. Even if your business is a cash-only (i.e., no insurance accepted) business, many of these businesses will accept credit cards as payment and thus have a delay in receiving their funds. These EHR/Practice Management Systems call also charge higher processing fees and surcharges for entering credit card information vs the proverbial "swipe". This leads to my next feature.
3. Processing Fees-
The dreaded 4-letter word that can ruin many ROI's. Choosing a merchant account provider who doesn't overwhelm you with costs/fees is vital to the success of your business. I will compare two merchant accounts and 2 EHR/Practice Management Software Companies. The he common fee rate for Square is 2.75% for "swiped/contactless" payments and a hefty 3.5% + .15 cents for manually entered transactions. IvyPay is a relatively new company and is a merchant account service provider specific to mental health therapists and only charges 2.75% with no additional fees and with any form of payment. However, if you use my invite code: valk996, you can receive your first $1,000 worth of charges absolutely free (i.e., no transaction fees)! There are no monthly fees nor gateway access fees. It is also secure, HIPAA compliant, and provides a BAA. TheraNest charges 2.72% + .32 cents per successful charge with no monthly or gateway fees. TherapyNotes charges 2.6% for Visa and MasterCard, 2.89% for American Express, and monthly gateway fee of $10 per month, and an access fee of .2999 for all Visa, MasterCard, and Discover transtions; .15 cents for American Express. They also charge a Chargeback Fee (refund) of $30. Therapy Notes also charges $9.95 for paper remittance statements (electronic remittance statements are free). Keep in mind, these are just two EHR/Practice Management Software Companies. There are many more EHR/Practice Management Software that varies in cost. Note: There are a plethora of EHR/Practice Management Software products as well as direct merchant account services to choose from. Look for my next blog that will address merchant account services.
4. Security (HIPAA/PHI/PCI/BAA)-
This is an important feature to examine when choosing a merchant account service provider. Does the merchant account not only offer data encryption, but does it also conform to the specifics of our industry and is is HIPAA compliant. Also, make sure that the merchant account provides or has a BAA and is able to protect PHI and is PCI compliant. IvyPay definitely fits that bill. Square also is HIPAA compliant, and PCI compliant, provided you have the updated swipe/chip reader. If you don't have the updated Magstripe/Contactless + Chip Reader, then you are at risk for non-PCI secure charges. Check you square Magstripe (i.e., swiper) reader and check with Square to ensure you have the latest/updated version. If you use your EHR/Practice Management Software to process payments, then they are more likely to have all the security, except BAA. Not all EHR/Practice Management Software provides you with a BAA. SimplePractice and CounSol and TherapyNotes all provide a BAA are HIPAA Compliant, protect PHI and offer PCI-secure electronic payments although it does vary depending on the Gateway merchant account service that you choose to use (i.e., authorize.net, stripe.com, braintreepayments.com, bluepay.com, forte.net, and payscape.com).
Overall, it is incumbent upon the business owner to ensure that the payment processing system you use with your clients has the above referenced features. Leaving it up to your EHR/Practice Management System (if you process payments using this method) can be like risky. I highly recommend IvyPay as it is the first and only merchant account service provider that targets mental health practitioners. Should you desire more information on how to receive $2000 worth of charges without a processing fee, sign up via email to receive the special code.
Stay Tuned for my next blog that will examine and compare/contrast the features of several merchant account service providers.
Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S