resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
East Meets West
Gung Hay Fat Choi. Welcome to the year of the Monkey. There will be fireworks for both January and February this year. What great celebrations.
Ethics: The Glue That Holds Us Together
Kudos to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) for creating a code of ethics for the nationwide profession and for deciding to make courses in ethics a requirement for certification renewal.
The Amazing Clinical Versatility of Milk Thistle (Part 1)
Most of us know that the standardized extract from the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is probably the best-proven herb for protecting the liver from chemical and inflammatory damage.
News in Brief
A Winner in and Out of the Office; Ready for the "Have-A-Heart" Campaign? New Integrative Medicine Journal.
We Get Letters & Email
In the Dec. 1, 2015 issue, we have Donald Petersen reporting on "the adapting chiropractic practice," which includes multidisciplinary practice as an option; a ChiroPoll indicating 59 percent of DCs are seeing at least 21 patients per day and 27 percent are seeing more than 40.
The Future of Functional Neurology
Functional is the hot buzzword in health care these days; witness the rising popularity of functional medicine, functional testing and yes, functional neurology.
How to Humanize Your Content to Create Stronger Relationships
Content marketing is about building relationships, whether that is through updates on social media, offers on your website, blog posts, email campaigns, or even printed material. Now days a business needs to make a human connection.
Percussion Therapy: An Experiment
My study of qi began more than 20 years ago — long before my study of TCM, points or pathways. It all started with an awareness in my hands and physical manifestations in the way of blockages while working on clients.
Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2016
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published its annual fitness trend forecast in the November / December 2015 issue of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal.
Billing and Coding for Moxibustion
Q: I am trying to locate a code for cupping and moxibustion, and have had various fellow acupuncturists indicate that they bill using the existing codes for heat, 97010 hot packs or 97026 infra-red for moxa and 97016 vasopneumatic device for cupping.
Spine Surgery: A Tale of Greed and Corruption
All too often, where there's substantial money to be made, greed and corruption inevitably follow.
Sell Out: Using Research for the Wrong Reasons
The above chorus is from the ska band Reel Big Fish's 1997 hit song, "Sell Out," from their album, "Turn the Radio Off." In the song, the singer sarcastically relates the plight of a musician who is tired of "flipping burgers" and is willing to get "lots of money" by playing "what they want you to hear" in order to get a recording contract.
Osteoporosis Isn't Always the Case
What is your diagnosis? The patient is a 58-year-old female with back pain. I am sure all of you see the compression fracture at L2; however, there are some findings that suggest this is not a compression fracture due to osteoporosis.
Integrative Medicine Can Shape the Profession
As the AOM profession struggles to define the role of "integrative" medicine within their practices their schools and organizations, students, faculty, alumni and administrators at schools wrestle with discussions of how much, where, how, and what to "integrate."
Interprofessionalism: What it Means and Why You Should Care
Interprofessionalism in education and in practice is a growing trend across health care in the United States. The idea that team-based care and collaborative practice can improve health care has been around more than 50 years.
Forgotten Options for Musculoskeletal Health
Challenges with musculoskeletal health are of tremendous concern for many people today.
The Roots of Insomnia
One of the most common clinical presentations is insomnia. Next to digestive disorders, sleep disorders are one of the most common complaints the clinician will encounter in daily practice.
Asking the Insurance Rep the Right Questions
One of the first or last questions a potential patient often asks is: "Do you take insurance?" An ill-informed or optimistic, "yes" can result in delayed or non-payment. Instead, just say: "Let me check if you are eligible first."
Preventing ACL Injuries in Female Athletes
For female athletes, the key to optimal athletic health lies in preventing ACL injuries. In medical terms, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the primary restraint to the anterior displacement of the tibia on the femur at all angles of the knee flexor.
Do You Teach Patients How to Breathe Properly?
Spinal manipulation often produces quick results in terms of pain alleviation and improved range of motion. Unfortunately, once the patient is no longer in pain, they may discontinue therapy, only to be plagued by the same complaint at a future date.
Yo San University Helps Make LA Communities Healthier
An element of healthcare training often overlooked is the residual benefit to communities served by Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) schools nationwide.
From Antiquity to Modernity: Huang Qin Tang at Yale Medical School, Part 1
Traditional Chinese medicine is a coherent medical system with several unique characteristics: it originated almost 3,000 years ago; in its area of origin, it has been practiced without interruption since its inception.
The MRI: When and Why to Order One
As I lecture around the country to both chiropractors and medical specialists, it's clear one of the main disconnects between the two professions is that of an accurate diagnosis.
Changing the Cultural View of Medicine
Many hospitals in the U.S. are incorporating integrative clinics that include Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cleveland Clinic has led the charge for adding a traditional Chinese herbal medicine clinic to their existing acupuncture program.
Window of the Sky Points
The acupuncture points known as Window of the Sky are a modern creation. There is no reference in Chinese medical texts for an acupuncture point category called Window of the Sky.
June, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 06
We Get Letters & E-Mail
By Editorial Staff
Editor's note: The first two letters reference "When Massage Meets Managed Care," from the February 2001 issue of MT. The article can also be viewed on line at http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/02/04.html).
"I don't agree with pushing these managed care plans"
I really enjoyed your article in the February issue of Massage Today regarding massage therapy and insurance/managed care.I am a licensed massage therapist and have been practicing for 10 years. I have always been in a clinical environment, and I think it is a huge mistake for massage therapists to join these insurance plans.
Insurance is very destructive in a lot of cases. The insurance companies control the provider and the insured. They dictate the type of care people can receive and also dictate how much the provider receives for providing these services.
I think managed care will devalue the massage profession. If people truly understand the benefits of massage therapy, they will pay for it. Those who will only come if their insurance will pay are usually not interested in getting better or overcoming any type of problem, and they will drain you in numerous ways.
Why are we pushing this so strongly? I truly do not understand the mentality of the therapist who would want to join managed care. I have a very strong practice - completely booked with standing appointments (seeing 30 people per week); a waiting list; and all cash-paying clients.
I know there may be differences in the type of practice and type of clients other massage therapists have, but I still think we shouldn't be pushing these managed care plans. We should be able to have thriving practices simply by educating people and putting the appropriate value on the work we provide.
Lisa E. Kirk, LMT
"It's the game we should be preparing to play"
I received your February issue, and I have to say that your article on health insurance plans is right on track. What you have failed to mention is how the insurance game is typically played today by those already accepted into the "system." Inflated prices are commonplace in medicine, directly because of (in my opinion) these "modest discounts." And at one point I'm sure that they were just that: modest discounts. Doctors charged a fair price for their services, and people paid the doctor directly. Then came the third-party payor system and the progression of policy to what we see today. According to their tables (which are based on inflated prices), a 25% discount is modest. It is their world with their own benchmarks and standards. Doctors are forced to increase their rates disproportionately to get the insurance company to eventually pay a little more. We can see the evidence of this in the inflation rate of health care costs which are growing at 200% that of inflation (according to my memory from past news spots). It is commonplace for doctors to bill $300 and get paid $50 by insurance, while those paying cash get stuck with the whole bill.
It is clear that medical costs in general have become grossly distorted. However, we as massage therapists have not yet played the game of insurance long enough to become equally inflated. However, we have played the game of what the competitive market will bear, in which there is no room for grossly inflated prices. In order to survive financially and play their game, we too will have to become inflated in price to absorb the cost of discounting services. If we do play, we will become dependent upon the system, because no one outside of our contracts with the insurance company will be able to afford us. Moreover, the discretion of the therapist to appropriately treat the client will automatically be limited to what the prescribing physician orders and the insurance approves. For example, a physician writes a script for "massage" therapy for a patient's low back pain, and insurance approves the treatment for x # of sessions. Those who know little or nothing about holistic therapies will limit your ability to treat beyond the region specified (L1-L5). If you do treat beyond what was prescribed, your services will not be reimbursable if they "catch you committing fraud," and you will also have to contend with the potential legal consequences. It's precisely the same string that doctors complain of regarding HMO's -- the practitioner with the knowledge and skill isn't allowed to decide what is best for the patient.
There is another option, one that is becoming a major trend among many physicians: cash-based practices. Medical practices are firing billing departments, (on average it takes two full-time staff to handle insurance billing for every physician) cutting prices to fair/competitive levels, and going to cash payment for services rendered. In turn, the doctor provides patients (now customers) with a form detailing their diagnosis code, treatment codes, necessary physician information, and the amount paid by the patient. If patients desire to be reimbursed by insurance, they submit their claims to their insurance carrier and the carrier reimburses them directly. This is the type of game we can play where everyone wins, and it's the game we should be preparing to play as an industry.
Peter C. Kassner, ND, LMT
"I don't ever want to take insurance payments..."
I am a certified massage therapist in Virginia and just read the second issue of Massage Today. I agree with your article about "Massage and Medicine." (See the front page of the February issue, or access the article on line at http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/02/06.html.) I had the option to participate in the networking program (access) and decided not to participate.
I am having trouble understanding why any massage therapist would participate. The only benefit a massage therapist gets is "possible" referrals. I am a business owner and started my business 1 1/2 years ago. The business has grown and continues to grow. I advertise some, but most of my new clients come from referrals, from other clients (word-of-mouth). With some hard work and patience, the referrals come and I don't have to take a cut in pay.
As a business owner, I can decide at any time who to give a discount or coupon to, for whatever reason. I would never agree to giving too many discounts, because I have monthly business expenses (office rent, phone, laundry, supplies, self employment taxes, etc.). I also earn my living solely on the profit of the business, so I cannot afford to give to many discounts. I opened my own business because I wanted to be the decision maker and not dictated to about policy and procedure.
I am also worried about HMO payments with the set price of $45 per hour (because that's the set price that all participating MTs have agreed to). Massage therapists participating in this sort of arrangement will never be able to get raises as they desire.
I only charged $45 per hour during my first year, but have since raised the price to $50 per hour. I will always try to keep my prices affordable for my clients. I pay out-of-pocket for my chiropractic care and at times, massages. I think enough about my health that I don't mind paying out of pocket for alternative health services. I don't expect any more from my clients than I expect from myself.
I don't ever want to take insurance payments because that will come with all kinds of problems (treatment dictation, three-month wait for reimbursement, etc.). I work extremely hard at my business. It's more than just doing massages. It's cleaning the office; washing the sheets; client chart paperwork; self-employment and tax paperwork; designing and printing my own brochures; newsletters; advertising; mailing birthday cards and newsletters to clients; etc.
I realize that $50 per massage sounds like a lot of money, but after my expenses and the time that I actually invest, I'm lucky if I'm making $12 per hour. I work too hard to make any less.
So honestly, what is the reason that MTs would participate in the networking program? Why not go out and get your own referrals, and charge what you think is fair to your clients?
Susan Cumpian, CMT
Reward Wellness, Not Sickness
I read your article in Massage Today concerning "Massage and Medicine. I was very taken with the article. As a massage therapist, I have many clients ask me if I take insurance. My reply is always, "No!" for the simple fact that I do not want to be dictated to. I work for myself on purpose. This way I have control over my business in its entirety. I know that Blue Cross and Blue Shield are involved in the alternatives now. Many organizations have approached me about belonging to their group. The reason I say "No" is because they want to tell me how to run my business concerning their clients, as you so aptly stated in your article.
I am 52 years old and have been practicing for 5 1/2 years. My practice is doing very well and I am grateful to all of my clients. If they choose to submit their time with me to their insurance carrier, I will give them a receipt for that purpose. This is as far as I am willing to go. People need to be responsible for their own health. Insurance carriers should be reimbursing clients for their wellness, not the other way around. It is just a matter of time before insurance companies reward people for maintaining wellness instead of rewarding them for sickness.
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