Avoid These Phrases to Attract Clients as an Out-of-Network OT Clinic

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What Not to Say If You’re Out of Network as an Occupational Therapy Clinic

When I started my clinic over 10 years ago, I didn’t know what to tell people when I mentioned that we were out of network as an occupational therapy clinic. 

My name is Hoang. I’m an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist. Today, I want to share with you a couple of things not to say if you’re out of network as an occupational therapy clinic.

Early Days, Big Mistakes

At the beginning of my journey, I had no guidance. Everyone told me to just get in-network, but it wasn’t that easy. It was challenging to get into a network. Most network places were closed, and some offered such poor reimbursement that it wasn’t sustainable.

Here are a couple of things I said often, and I cringe at them now. So, here are a few things not to say if you’re out of network:

  • “Unfortunately…” Stop right there!  I’ll explain why afterward.
  • “Sorry, but…” Apologies push potential clients away.
  • Long explanations about not being in-network. People care more about solutions than the details.

When people came in with post-surgical cases—my specialty—they would often ask, “Do you take my insurance?” I used to respond, “Well, unfortunately, I don’t take your insurance,” and then try to justify why they should work with me. I encourage you not to do this and I’m going to share with you what you can say instead.

The other thing I would go on and on about was I would just apologize. “Well, I’m sorry, but I really know how to help you if you give me a chance. Come on, your hand surgeon is sending you here because I’m the best, and my price is reasonable.” Those were some of the things I said. And then the other thing was just going into explaining why.

Shifting the Focus: Solutions, Not Insurance

Here’s the reason why I’m saying don’t say those things if you’re out of network.

Patients are calling you because they have a particular problem that you can solve. For instance, my website emphasized that I work with hand cases, particularly post-surgical ones. Someone might call and say, “I had hand surgery; I cut several tendons and a nerve; I really need to get in.” My initial reaction was, “Oh my God, I don’t take his insurance.” This mindset is detrimental.

The truth is, patients want a solution to their problem. They have a particular problem, and they’re calling you because you might be able to help them, and that’s a match. If they have a problem and you know how to help them, then you meet them with, “Hey, I can help you. Let’s discuss what you’re looking for, what’s most important to you.”

Then you can say, “Fortunately, I’m an out-of-network provider. I don’t take insurance, but here is how I can help you.” This approach focuses on addressing their needs and explaining your services.

If you start with “Unfortunately, I don’t take your insurance,” you’re setting a negative tone. Instead, say, “Yes, we’re an out-of-network provider. Can I explain what that looks like and how we work?” This helps determine if they are genuinely interested in your services.

I had a really hard time with that at the beginning. One of my clients who came in at the very beginning, who was probably one of my first cash-paying patients, didn’t even care about insurance, but I was already so defensive about the fact that I was an out-of-network provider. He simply said, “I cut my hand, and I was told you’re the best person to help me.” I responded, “Yes, I am. Tell me more about what’s going on with your hand.” Then I shared my expertise and availability. This positive approach works far better than starting with insurance limitations.

Watch the full YouTube video: What NOT to say If You’re Out of Network as an Occupational Therapy Clinic

Qualifying Leads & Embracing Confidence

As an occupational therapist, where are you finding yourself on phone calls? Are you or your staff avoiding words like “unfortunately,” “sorry but,” or long explanations of why you don’t take insurance? These phrases can push potential clients away.

Reflect on where you might be pushing people away by saying things like “Unfortunately, I can’t help with your insurance.” Instead, say, “Fortunately, I can help with your specific problem. Would you like me to explain how out-of-network works?”

There will be a handful of people who say, “Yeah, I only want to come to therapy if you’re in-network.” Great, I’m so glad that I was able to help you clarify that. If that’s all that you need, then I’m not the best person to help you. Let me refer you to your in-network providers, but here’s how I can help you. 

We have a script in my office. If they only want to be in-network, we just ask for permission: “Hey, can we follow up with you to see if you got the help you need?” 

Sometimes in-network facilities are so limited for what that person might be looking for, and that’s all they know to look for. We just ask for permission to follow up. Some people say yes, and some people say no. Great, now I can focus my time and attention on the person that says yes, I can follow up with them.

This maintains a positive relationship and keeps the door open for future opportunities.

Finally, if someone asks why you don’t take insurance, have a concise answer ready. Explain that as an out-of-network provider, you can offer top-quality services that in-network limitations wouldn’t allow. This brief explanation, followed by a focus on how you can help, reassures potential clients of your value.

In my clinic, we offer free consultations to allow potential clients to see if our therapy is right for them. We couldn’t offer this if we were in-network.


To summarize, if you’re an out-of-network occupational therapy provider, avoid saying “unfortunately,” “sorry but,” and lengthy explanations about not taking insurance. Instead, focus on how you can help with their specific problem.

Remember, you’re not forcing a relationship. It’s about mutual benefit.

  • Start with “Yes.” “Yes, I’m out-of-network. Can I explain how we can work together?”
  • Qualify leads, save time. This approach helps identify who truly needs your services.
  • Embrace the confident approach. People trust those who believe in their ability to help.

I hope this post helps you. From my experience, I hope to lessen your challenges. 

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Hoang Tran

“I help Occupational Therapists develop their skills and grow their confidence in Hand Therapy. No matter where you are on your journey, build a happy and fulfilling career of your dreams. I’ll help you.”