Fuller sees cash sales in rehab's future

Thursday, September 30, 2004

RINGGOLD, Ga. - Fuller Rehabilitation has come a long way from the days when founder Mike Fuller ran the business out of his attic, and the 16-branch company shows no signs of slowing down.

In August, the company announced plans to open a new 35,000-square-foot facility here by December. The building will house the company’s corporate offices and serve as a distribution warehouse for its service locations throughout the Southeast United States, said President and CEO Carter Fuller.

But that’s not all. As the CEO contemplates the new building and the future of home care, one thing is abundantly clear to him: Rehab providers must push more aggressively for cash sales, especially in today’s climate of shrinking reimbursement.

Fuller estimates that 50% of his company’s customers don’t qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or some other payer. Converting more of those customers to cash sales - not walking away from them - is a challenge all rehab providers face going forward, he said.

“In our industry, people often forget to ask for the sale,” he said. “If someone doesn’t qualify and you don’t ask if they want to pay for it, I can promise you they probably won’t.”

As baby boomers retire, the CEO believes they’ll have more money to spend on mobility products so providers need to be “serious” about cash sales and make it part of their company’s focus. Fuller acknowledges that many people who need mobility products don’t qualify for reimbursement and often don’t have the means to pay cash. Finding an alternative payment source can be difficult but not impossible.

“It’s not prudent to let someone walk away because they don’t qualify,” Fuller said. “They called you because they need help. Whether Medicaid or Medicare pays for it is not the point. I think that is where some people get lost.”