resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
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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