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Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
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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