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Massage Today
July, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 07

Certified Medical Massage Therapists

By Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT

Suddenly, there seems to be a lot of hype about the requirements (both present and future) necessary to become a "certified medical massage therapist" in order to be qualified to bill insurance companies.

I promise you: I will be the strongest opponent against this happening! Neither I, nor anyone else that teaches insurance billing to others has ever had this title or so-called certification, in order to make inroads for those who desire to work with medically oriented patients and accept insurance for reimbursement.

About Additional Education

I have no problem with certifications or additional training to enhance our knowledge and abilities, or increase our effectiveness to perform positive functional outcomes with medically related cases - I believe this is imperative.

But to begin a movement toward this end in order to enhance personal earning powers by teaching seminars and setting up organizations, is totally unfair and uncalled for.

The Facts

If this was a requirement when I started, it is unlikely that as many massage therapists would be accepting insurance at the rates they are now. It is a fact that thousands of patients would have gone without treatments that significantly benefited them, including myself. It is also a fact that my youngest daughter who suffers total incapacity due to brain damage from an auto accident would now be sitting in a dirty old county home, were it not for the additional income I earned by accepting medical- and insurance-related referrals.

What is Required of Insurance Companies?

What is required of an insurance company for reimbursement is for the patient's condition to be medically necessary. The physician determines medical necessity and prescribes the treatment best suited for the patient with a written prescription. When we treat the patient per the physician's orders we are performing medically oriented massage, whether or not this massage is paid for by insurance, and whether or not any specific or certified treatment or technique is used.

What Brings a Patient Back?

What brings the patient back and keeps the physician referring is patient satisfaction. (Insurance companies are rated partially upon patient satisfaction.) If patients are not satisfied, they will not return - it's as simple as that! They will notify the physician who, in turn, will stop referring to you. So, it certainly behooves any therapist wanting to work in the medical arena to obtain all the additional hands-on training possible. I recommend they learn from those tried-and-true trainers in the field.

Our Top-Notch Trainers

You don't see most of those who are truly qualified to provide top-notch training and certification trying to put us in a box or pushing their types of certification as a means to be reimbursed by insurance companies. We take their courses because we know we are learning techniques that will help us help our clients and patients. Currently, no insurer requires a massage professional to have any specific certification other than possibly licensure. So, why are some individuals trying to create problems that will leave many qualified therapists out in the cold? Some have been practicing and billing for years, and some may have training way beyond what a so-called medical massage certification may provide them!

Contact Me. I want to hear from you!


Click here for more information about Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.

 

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