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Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
August, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 08
Money and Ethics
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
As the insurance debate heats up, emotions are kindled. As emotions become involved, logical thought goes out the window. Please try to put your emotions aside as you read the following five points regarding financial and ethical considerations in being an insurance provider.Ponder them carefully, and use them to help form your opinions, rather of rallying to the call of your emotions.
"We could help more people if we could get insurance reimbursement," is the rallying cry to justify monetary cravings. If helping more people is indeed the true desire, offer your services on a donation basis. Then everyone can afford you. You'll have all the people you have the strength to work on. Of course, this is unacceptable to most therapists who seek insurance because, in reality, it is the money they seek. That's fine - there's nothing wrong with getting paid for your services. Massage is a valuable service, and a physically demanding one at that. This limits how many hours a day one can work -- something not understood by insurance companies. You deserve to live a comfortable life. Money is required for that.
Now the question becomes, "Is there more money available to a therapist working for insurance, or working in a cash practice?" Let's do the math on insurance network programs. Let's accept their claim that they will send you 30% more clients if you accept a 25% rate cut, and see what eventually happens.
If you add their 30%, you gain six new clients. If only those new clients are participants with the "Alternative Care" company plan, here's what happens:
However, if your regular, full-paying clients find out about this "deal" and go with the insurance company, what will happen? Let's say 10% of your clients sign up, so now 40% of your clients (10.4, which I'll round off to 10) are now paying $37.50. That's $375 + $800 = $1,175. You should note that you will now be doing six extra massages for $175 total ($29.16/hr., not $37.50/hr.).
As 60% of our clients join the company, our income slowly dissipates as we work more hours.
At 100% of clients belonging to the company, which is not unreasonable considering what PTs and DCs do, and how fast the word spreads: 26 clients @ $37.50/hr = $975/week.
In other words, you make $25.00 less than when you "only" had 20 clients. Do six more massages, make $25 less. Work more for less. That is what insurance plans bring. Note that the insurance networks cap what you can charge. A therapist who now charges $70/hr. will only get $35/hr. tops on some plans -- a 50% deduction from regular fees.
The above example is for an access plan in which you get paid at the time of service by the patient. If you want third-party payment insurance reimbursement, you get to spend the additional time necessary to file and follow-up on all the paperwork or e-filings. More work, for the same or less pay. Gets better all the time, doesn't it? What would possess a logical, thinking mind to do this?
In other professions, providers/therapists have jacked their rates way up so that, after the insurance discount, they still make what they want/need. Responsible clients/patients are punished so severely that they have no choice but to buy insurance. They cannot afford health care because of insurance. This is by careful, premeditated design.
Back to the issue of helping more people. Helping more people now is not possible, because those people have made choices that prevent them from affording our services at the prices we want to charge. Soon we will not be able to help patients because the gatekeeper sends them to a PT or limits the number of appointments they can have. A plan or physician could allow only eight massage therapy visits a year, even for chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia. Worse yet, with insurance driving up prices, few people will be able to afford massage out-of-pocket. This has happened to every other profession, and it will happen eventually with massage.
If you do not have enough patients now, insurance may look like a way to get ahead fast. It may even look like a way to reach new patient populations -- to help those who choose not to afford massage. "80% of something is better than 100% of nothing" makes insurance cases sound tempting initially. The reasons most therapists have low patient loads is they do not have adequate therapeutic, personal and/or promotional skills.
Invest in acquiring better skills, rather than in learning how to play the insurance game. Skilled therapists become very busy no matter where they live. More people in stress and pain are looking for help than we can ever serve. Acquire the skills to help them and you will never need or desire to subject yourself or your patients to the abuses of insurance.
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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