The Biggest Problem

facing the profession today is….  I’m sure we could (and will in the next few months) come up with quite a list to choose from.  I bet if you asked a random sampling of acupuncturists today, a significant percentage would say it is that most insurance and medicare doesn’t cover acupuncture.  Certainly a lot of energy has been spent trying to change that, last week’s petition drive only one example.

If I had a magic wand and magically made acupuncture part of the medicare system and required that all insurance companies covered it, would it serve our profession?  I’m not so sure, and there are lots of reasons why.

One consideration is that a significant percentage of people in the U.S. do not live or work a reasonable distance from an acupuncturist.  If a program were put in place tomorrow that paid for acupuncture treatment, no questions asked, for every citizen, many, many folks would still go without.  We still have six states without licensure.  In most states with licensure there are large areas with no practitioners, and even in areas with acupuncturists there may not be enough to handle a large influx of new patients.  (This is why it made sense for the ACA to default to existing large plans in a state — the system had already begun to address delivery.)

More on this soon.  For now, ponder where people would get acupuncture if, all of a sudden, lots more people wanted it.  Are there other issues that should be a higher priority?



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© Elaine Wolf Komarow and The Acupuncture Observer, 2013-2033. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from Elaine Wolf Komarow is prohibited. Excerpts and links are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

3 thoughts on “The Biggest Problem

  1. I agree Lil. This is an example of one of the profession’s ongoing issues. We don’t check with the experts and fully evaluate the issues before we take action. I know there are studies on the impact of insurance on the level of care and on provider satisfaction. But I haven’t seen our institutions exploring that sort of research. In my experience, too much of what we’ve done is based on the fervent belief of a few people rather than careful study and evaluation.

  2. We have to remember that insurance is a double-edged sword. Maybe having it cover acupuncture would give acupuncturists more clients, but it is a very short step from having a insurance company cover our services to having them tell us what to do and how to do it. Our friends working in western medicine often seem unhappy that their professional lives are so dictated by payors, who know nothing about patient care. They know less than nothing about what we do.

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