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Massage Today
March, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 03

We Get Letters & E-Mail

By Editorial Staff

"My hands are just as important as a surgeon's hands"

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to Vivian Madison's article about fees [MT, October 2002].

I have always been impressed with Vivian's knowledge of insurance billing, but I'm not sure if she has personally done 25 hours a massage, week in and week out, for any substantial period of time. If she possessed this type of experience, I'm sure her article would have defended the billing fees of LMTs.

Vivian stated that in 1984-85, she was billing at most $95 per hour, and can't believe that some therapists now charge $145 to $175 per hour. She also said, "If you think you are worth the same fee as a physician, or think you should charge outrageously high rates, please think twice." How long does a physician work with each patient? The national average is five minutes per patient, so theoretically, the physician can pump out 12 patients per hour. So, how much is the physician actually making per hour? Another problem with her theory of worth is that a physician can practice for 40 to 50 years, pumping out thousands of patients a year. Do you know how many years a therapist can work? When was the last time you saw a 60-year-old massage therapist dragging his or her table through someone's front door? Do you know the number of patients a therapist can see throughout a career? Those numbers pale in comparison to the amount of potential income a physician can make.

Vivian also was unhappy that some therapists complain about working for $25 an hour at chiropractic offices. I think one of the reasons they complain is that chiropractors bill them out at $150 per hour. Why is it wrong for a therapist to bill at such high rates, but OK for the chiropractor to do so? Most therapists do not complain about a fair split in an office situation, and if they do, it's a self-correcting situation: They usually don't last long in that office.

Vivian also stated, "What makes us think that just because we obtained a license with minimal training, we should now be making the same as others who have invested untold capital and spent years of training and residency time?" Well, does value equate only with dollars and time spent in training? If so, an individual who spends no time in formal training and hasn't put tons of capital into his or her art doesn't have any value. Darn, I knew I was paying my computer guy too much money for his expertise. You see, he never received any formal schooling, and didn't have much money to put into his business ... but he sure can keep my computer up and running. He's well-worth the $150 an hour I pay him. But, of course, I'm not worth $150, since I only work on human beings.

I truly believe my hands are just as important as a surgeon's hands, and if the insurance companies want bargain-basement prices, they need to remember one thing: You get what you pay for.

Alice Belusko, LMT
Plantation, Florida

"Education for the sake of education is not the answer"

Dear Editor:

I was struck by your poll question regarding education ["Should Massage Schools Have Educational Requirements for Entry?" MT, October 2002]. I usually tell people the story of the elderly Pennsylvania woman who learned to be a midwife at her mother's knee. She delivered every baby born in the PA Amish community for more than a quarter-century ... until the state legislators decided it was time to introduce educational requirements for the midwifery "profession." The state required high school and college education. Our "pioneer" didn't qualify, and opted to retire. What a loss of a resource! This woman should have been lecturing at a medical school! New OB-GYN graduates perform Caesarian sections on 30% of their patients, not to mention the damage they inflict with blades and forceps.

The point is, some people have a healing touch. It cannot be learned from a book! (In fact, many of them choose to practice "laying on of hands," under the title of Reverend.) All allopaths are required to be "book-smart"; a trillion dollars later, the U.S. is an illness culture. Education for the sake of education is not the answer.

David Ponsonby, CMT
Dallas, Texas


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