resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
November, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 11
Top 5 Questions Asked of Me Daily
By Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT
While some of the following information might seem to be repeated, please know that since the same questions reoccur daily, it's apparent that many still are in need of this information.
Do I really need to be a "Certified Medical Massage Therapist" in order to bill and be reimbursed by Insurance?
The answer is emphatically NO! For the past year or so, you have been seeing lot of propaganda/advertising to this effect and many of us feel it's detrimental to our profession.Your massage magazines make a lot of money on these ads, so it is understandable why they run them, even though it has been brought to their attention from different sources that some of these ads have contained several false and misleading statements.
I will reference Florida here a couple of times due to present laws in effect. However, there also are other states, such as Washington, with laws in effect that pertain to the reimbursement requirements for a massage therapist.
In Florida the law states "IF the policy covers massage, it shall then cover the services of one licensed to perform massage."
It does not say one single thing about having to be "certified" in ANYTHING. Our license and the fact that patients' conditions meet medically necessary requirements, determined by a referring physician's medical diagnosis, is what designates if an insurance company will or will not reimburse for our service. There are, of course, a lot of other things involved that will determine whether or not an insurance company must or will reimburse, but one of them is NOT whether or not you are a "certified medical massage therapist."
I do, however, highly recommend you obtain all of the additional training possible in procedures and techniques that will enhance your skills to benefit the patient. To have the skills and knowledge equals more referrals and more repeat business. It just makes sense that you cannot perform your best if you have not given your best to learning more techniques and procedures that will help to create a more positive functional outcome for patients. That is what insurers look for when they consider further reimbursement. If you or I can't provide it, somebody else will.
Can you provide me with a list of insurance companies that will reimburse a massage therapist?
I'm sorry to say, there is no such thing as a list for this purpose. There are directories available from your state's Insurance Commissioners' offices that list every insurance company and other pertinent information. However, no single insurance company specifically listed will or will not reimburse a massage therapist or any other provider for that matter. Let me explain. If State Farm reimburses for an auto accident case, it does not necessarily mean this same insurer will reimburse for a major medical condition under the same patient's health policy, nor for a workers compensation related injury.
Some insurers only reimburse for workers' compensation cases, while others might cover auto injury cases and yet others might have a multitude of situations they will provide reimbursement for under different conditions. For example: Blue Cross of Florida might cover the services of a massage therapist for a medical referral under a private policy or under a state employee policy or certificate of coverage, and yet not under Medicare Supplemental Plans or even some self-insured employer plans. Blue Cross of Tennessee, and most other states, will not reimburse a massage therapist at all.
Do you think it possibly would benefit those of you in your individual states to seek legislative changes to help you, as has been done in Florida and Washington, rather than let profit seeking individuals set the rules for you in the future?
Do I need a prescription from a physician to be reimbursed from an insurance company?
In my 20 years experience in the insurance related field, I have never seen an incident where it was not necessary. The reason is this: For an insurance company to reimburse someone, the patient's condition must meet the medically necessary requirements. It's not in our scope of practice to diagnose a medical condition. Therefore, only a physician's prescription will provide the medical diagnoses. Also in some states, laws require that the prescription must indicate the frequency, duration, diagnosis and physician's signature.
Why are insurance companies denying one code or the other when I use 97124 and 97140 together?
Because they feel the two codes, myofascial release 97140 and massage 97124 provide the same service. If this were indeed true, the AMA CPT Code book would not need to have a separate definition for each code, nor would insurers reimburse differently for each code. However, it's sometimes easier to do what they want and be able to put the money in the bank. It's not always worth fighting city hall, although that is exactly what I was willing to do when I had my practice for nearly 16 years, in order to continue to make inroads for all of us.
I am constantly being turned down for payment for one reason or another. Can you tell me why?
When working with insurance companies, the insurer requires that all your "i's" be dotted and your "t's" be crossed. Without specific situations, I only can say the following:
Too many therapists are obtaining a CODE or a FORM from somewhere then try to piecemeal it all together and then expect to be reimbursed.
A few of us pretty much invented that wheel in the first place and crossed those bridges one step at a time. That is why I am here trying to help you to avoid those pitfalls.
Many therapists who wish to begin working with medical referrals and insurance cases are not aware that to do so has legal ramifications and requirements. They need to be informed of laws, rules, guidelines, warnings and other specific situations, especially those where insurers are not required to or are not going to provide reimbursement.
Many therapists will bill for types of cases they cannot or will not be reimbursed for under any set of circumstances. They need to know that working in the insurance industry and with medical referrals requires specific training in and of itself, and should be willing to make an additional investment in training, just as they did to become a massage therapist or bodyworker in the first place.
Those who have done this, find working with insurance easier, more enjoyable and certainly very profitable. Often, a therapist will e-mail or call me for a code or specific form or piece of information. While I am ALWAYS more than willing to help, it's also imperative they understand the importance of making an investment in materials, courses or other valuable information to prevent denials, delays and financial losses, as well as major disappointments.
I know I am not alone when I say that I wish more schools would incorporate more of this, or other business-related training in their curriculum so therapists would have a better sense of direction when ready to go out into the business world.
Click here for more information about Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.
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