Gas cards for valued patients?

August 1, 2008

Can we reward valued patients with gas cards, or does that violate governmental regulations?

Key Points

We are a rural subspecialty practice, and many of our patients travel very long distances to see us. Given the price of gas these days, we would like to reward these patients by providing gas cards in varying denominations relative to the distances they travel. Will we run afoul of any government regulations in doing so?

The OIG Compliance Program for Individual and Small Group Physician Practices identifies "Improper Inducements, Kickbacks and Self-Referrals" as specific risk areas to be addressed in any practice's compliance plan. An example of inappropriate inducements is that of a provider who routinely waives copay and deductible amounts as an incentive for patients to be seen by that practice. Whether or not a gas card for your patients would fall within that prohibition is something you may wish to learn from the OIG in an opinion letter. Contact your local carrier about the process for doing so.