resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Introducing the Acupuncture Today Digital Edition
In response to the changing habits of our readers, Acupuncture Today will introduce a digital edition of the publication (in addition to our print edition) beginning with the August 2016 issue.
A Long-Overdue Win for Oregon Medicaid Patients - and the Implications for Other States
Beginning July 1, 2016, Oregon Medicaid patients with spinal pain (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, pelvic) who are determined to be low risk based on a biopsychosocial assessment tool (STarT Back – Keele University) can receive four chiropractic visits per episode.
Kansas Achieves Licensing Law
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2615 into law on Friday, May 13, 2016. HB2615 includes provisions for the licensure of acupuncturists in the state of Kansas.
Adventures with the San Jiao
Those of us who have been in practice for several decades relish the way meridians and points reveal new diagnostic clues and new insights. I love to encourage my students to see this as an adventure that goes way beyond the textbooks.
Treating Hip & Groin Pain With Abdominal Release of Upper Lumbar Nerve Impingements
Have you encountered patients with groin and hip pain you can't seem to solve? You know it's not a worn-out hip; you suspect the pain is somehow connected to the spine. But somehow, you just can't help them break through.
What's New in Phytonutrition: Mangifera Indica, "The King of Fruits"
One hundred percent pure Indian green mango fruit (mangifera indica), harvested at a special degree of ripeness for efficacy and taste, can now be concentrated as a phytonutrient nutraceutical powder.
Chronic Pain: Become Part of the Solution
I have lectured to more than 7,000 chiropractic physicians over the past five years regarding the chronic pain and opioid epidemic in this country.
Beating the Odds: Interview With Para-Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta
Since October 2015, the FICS Foundation, the charitable organization affiliated with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS), has been supporting disabled athletes internationally.
How to Stay Sane During the Elections: Understanding Through the Lens of Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine philosophy, everything consists of Yin and Yang. The law of polar opposites – one cannot exist without its opposite.
Three Tips to Help You Analyze the Acupuncture Case Studies of the NCCAOM Exam
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Case study:
After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third
session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse
during cold weather.
Believe it or not, an estimated one-third of your patients have eaten some form of fast food within 24 hours of their appointment with you.
Multivitamin Supplement May Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the value of multiple vitamin supplements in cancer prevention.
The Pertinent Negative
We all have to perform evaluations on patients. Most of us don't like doing it – exams take time, and worse it takes even more time after the evaluation to put together a narrative summary of the findings. Sometimes, this process becomes downright tedious.
Sit or Stand? Analyzing a Mixed Message
I'm more than a bit confused. At my age, that seems to be a rather common occurrence. However, today more than ever, I'm getting a mixed message.
What You Say Isn't Always What Patients Hear
A few years ago, my aunt Edna (name changed for the purpose of this story) suffered a stroke. After a short hospital stay, she was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation. When she arrived at the nursing home, Edna requested a private room.
Acupuncture Muscle Trigger Point and Oriental Medicine Sports Therapy
It is difficult to ascertain the internal condition of professional basketball player Lebron James during game one of the 2014 NBA finals, in which he developed debilitating muscle cramps that led to his premature removal from the game.
Tai Chi Documentary Premier
First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.
An Emerging Partnership Model
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has educated integrative health and wellness practitioners for the last 40 years, originally as an acupuncture clinic and school. The institution's transformative, relationship-centered programs integrate traditional wisdom with contemporary science
Acupuncture's Impact on the World
For several years, I have been hearing about the town of Rothenburg, Germany. It seemed just a dot on a map until I arrived. It is the home of the TCM Kongress which began in 1968. It has been held annually for 47 years and it has only missed one year.
AOM Hospital-Based Practice: A Future Reality?
The natural evolution of health care on the planet is integrative health. We may have some challenges ahead, but based on my research, all indicators are pointing in a positive direction. There seems to be an evolving consciousness among our patient population that is "getting it."
Increasing the Value of Spine Care: CMS Approves New Low Back Pain Registry
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved the Spine IQ Low Back Pain Registry as a qualified clinical data registry for the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) in 2016.
Insuring Quality Control in Herb Importation: An Interview with Wilson Lau
Wilson Lau is the vice president of Nuherbs, a Chinese herb importation company based in San Leandro, California. Before joining Nuherbs, he trained as a lawyer specializing in FDA law.
June 14, 2004
Teaching Unethical Business Practices Must Stop
By Ed Denning, MEd, LMT
It is time to stop teaching unethical business practices to massage therapists. Those who teach the unethical business practices outlined below do so to capitalize on the greed of massage therapists who do not think about the consequences of their behavior.Those consequences are now beginning to exact a price, which all massage therapists will pay.
Unethical Teaching of Code Selection
One of the teaching practices I am talking about is the inclusion of highly questionable Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Codes. Many more codes than is appropriate are presented in literature and seminars. These folks carefully point out that the massage therapist is responsible for selecting the correct code (which means that the authors or seminar prenseters are not liable for what they teach), then list a large number of codes, most of which no massage therapist is qualified to use.
Those they teach are encouraged to interpret for themselves the meanings of the codes and whether they are qualified to use them. In most cases, the selection of a code is driven not by the meaning of the code and the massage therapists' qualifications, but rather by the fee that code pays.
The result of that kind of teaching is significantly higher fees and much greater income for the massage therapist, which is what drives the massage therapist to resort to questionable coding decisions. Did you know that an indentation of wording in the CPT coding manual carries with it an addition to the definition listed?
Did you know that a semicolon has a meaning, which is different than a comma when reading the codes? If you do not know those things, then you are incapable of using the American Medical Association's (AMA) CPT coding manual correctly. Stay out of it.
Certain insurances in Colorado are now restricting the number of CPT codes that a massage therapist may use to one code. They are also setting a specific maximum amount that can be claimed for that code. This is occurring because 95 different codes had been used by massage therapists making claims to their company. There are only three codes that the vast majority of massage therapists are able to use. That is not opinion, that is fact. The insurance companies are protecting themselves from unprincipled abuse on the part of the massage therapists. The massage therapists have abused those companies because of what they were taught.
Unethical Teaching of Fee Setting
Fee setting is a complicated and imprecise subject. One of the ways some teachers abuse this imprecision is to not include some very important information in their teaching. There are books that list every CPT code. They include information on usual and customary fees for service. The one I have organizes information in this way:
Except for Medicare/Medicaid, there is no set fee for 97124; each fee is for a unit of 15 minutes.
When you take into account the number of years of training, the overhead of the professional office, insurance to practice, and other miscellaneous costs of doing business, the physician has a right to charge a fee significantly higher than the massage therapist. And yet some who teach about fees would choose the $84 fee as though that ought to represent the usual and customary fee.
Realistically, a physician's usual and customary is higher than that of a massage therapists. Fifty percent of the physicians charge less than $40 for that service; therefore, a massage therapist's fee most certainly ought to be below $40.
Another small problem: If I tell you what the fee is for a service, then I have committed price fixing; that is i1llegal anywhere. We must each set our fees according to our own set of values and conditions. There is no legally correct fee. You could charge $150 per unit, and it would be legal to do so. So, why not choose the higher numbers?
Unethical Teaching of Business Practices
Consistency is the principle by which you can judge whether your business practices are within an ethical framework. Do you always charge the same fee for the same service? Please note: the amount charged is not the issue, it is the application that counts.
Which of the following should be charged a different fee than the others?
The answer, of course, is that they should all be charged the same fee. Can you make exceptions? Of course. I was a former teacher. Perhaps I wish to provide a special discount to teachers. I need only be up front regarding my prejudicial behavior toward teachers. My fee differential ought to be readily available for all to question.
What about insurances? An insurance company's client is an individual. Individuals all ought to be treated the same according to the example above. But there are additional expenses to billing insurance. Shouldn't we be able to charge a higher fee due to the higher expenses? The answer is "Yes".
However, there is no CPT Code for that expense by a massage therapist; therefore, it is not now possible to charge insurances for that work. Be patient. Such codes will be forthcoming.
There can be a large difference between legal and ethical. Helping to place that gap in perspective is the concept of "usual and customary." When trying to determine what is the usual and customary fee for a massage therapy service, you would want to know what a particular service would cost the average customer. Not the discounted price or special price, but the amount which the customer parts with before going out the door.
Earlier I asked a question: Why not choose the larger number? This had to do with the fee schedules that are published by the AMA.
The reason you don't charge the higher number is because it does not represent your "usual and customary" fee honestly and accurately. You choose a number that represents the reality of your behavior. No tricks with wording or fancy ways to sidestep an honest appraisal. If a cash customer would always pay $55 for a service then that is the "usual and customary" fee. Apply the "usual and customary" concept to the figures from the AMA and live with it.
Acceptable Ethical Models To Command Higher Fees
How can you earn a higher fee and avoid all of the previously mentioned problems? Actually for some it is quite easy.
There are many more ways to earn substantial incomes as a massage therapist. All of them require dedication, perseverance, education, good judgment, personal growth and hard work.
Ending Unethical Teaching
Ed Denning is a licensed massage therapist in Ohio. He is coordinator of the massage therapy program at Stark State College of Technology, and also serves on the Massage Therapy Advisory Committee of the Ohio State Medical Board.
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