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House Calls With Dad
My father was a chiropractor and he did house calls. On Wednesday nights, while my mother attended the weekly women's meeting at the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs hall in our small town, dad loaded up the portable adjusting table, fired up the Pontiac and drove off to treat a few patients in their homes. I went with him.
News in Brief
The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) board members recently met with the Korean Customs Service, which is similar to the FDA, to discuss herbal safety and importation issues.
Latest Cassidy Study on Stroke Risk Published
The latest study to investigate whether a unique association between chiropractic manipulation and risk of cervical artery dissection / stroke exists has yielded similar encouraging findings, with the authors noting "no excess risk of carotid artery stroke after chiropractic care" and no significant risk difference between patients receiving care from a DC or a primary care medical provider.
Paperwork Done Wrong, Done Right
I was visiting a doctor's office recently and a member of his staff brought a stack of forms to his private office and laid them on the doctor's desk. She informed him he needed to complete the forms for patients and a few third parties.
Waist Circumference: A Conversation Starter
New estimates suggest more than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. The medical significance of this statistic is astounding.
AOM Residency at NUNM
Imagine you're a recent acupuncture graduate, worried about making enough income as you forge your new career and seek more in-depth training in a particular treatment style.
Advancing the "Whole Organ" Spine Model
Historically, the human spine has been organized by body region utilizing specific anatomical landmarks and transition zones.
Gather & Grow
I recently attended a faculty seminar held by one of the acupuncture schools. There was a facilitator who led us through some very interesting experiences. The attendees were a diverse group with varying opinions.
The Acupuncture Channel System (Part 2)
The primary channels (main channels) are introduced in chapter 10 of the Ling Shu, these channels are referenced in many chapters throughout the Su Wen and the Ling Shu. The primary channels have become the main channel system used in TCM.
Near-Infrared Therapy for Diabetic Neuropathy
The pain experienced by people with diabetes is a symptom of diabetic neuropathy. The impact on quality of life is significant. Pain makes walking difficult, sleep troublesome, and eventually contributes to a decrease in social interaction.
TCM & the Caregiving Population: Treatment Considerations & Our Vital Role
Informal caregiving is increasingly a reality for many Americans who find themselves providing unpaid care for a loved one or a family member with a long-term, terminal, or chronic illness.
The Large Intestine Official
The large intestine (AKA colon) is the great eliminator, or as J.R. Worsley called it, "The Drainer of the Dregs." Dregs are defined as the remnants of liquid with its sediment left in a container, or the basest, least valuable portion of anything.
Chiropractic in Texas Is Under Attack
The profession of chiropractic faces an unprecedented challenge in Texas, an attack that is more aggressive, sustained and dangerous than anything previously seen. The medical lobby has launched a coordinated, multi-front assault.
A Brief History of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Doctoral Programs
A doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine has been a goal of the profession since its beginnings in the late 1970s. At that time, however, the maturity of the educational institutions and the regulatory environment made it a goal with only a distant completion date.
VF Works / DMX Works Epilogue: Almost Two Decades Later, the Lawsuits Continue
An article in the March 8, 1999 edition of Dynamic Chiropractic examined whether then-VF Works / Nu-Best Franchising was selling its franchises illegally to doctors of chiropractic.
ICA Goes on the Vaccine Offensive
Have you watched the vaccination documentary, "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe," by Andrew Wakefield MD, director, and Del Bigtree, producer? This is the documentary Robert DeNiro was pressured to remove from his Tribeca Film Festival.
Spiritual Initiation: Opening Your Higher Healing Abilities
People drawn to the field of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine tend to be those who march to the beat of a different drummer.
Treating the Lower Pelvis (Pt. 2): Midline Structures and Fascia
My previous article [October 2016 issue] outlined evaluation and treatment of pelvic issues involving the sacrotuberous ligament and the pubic symphysis. Now let's discuss two case studies that illustrate how to address additional problematic areas of the pelvis.
Correcting Rib Dysfunction: Improve Patients' Pain, Posture and Breathing
As chiropractors, we tend to focus on the spine, and rightly so. Many problems our patients face can be corrected by manipulating the correct spinal level.
Getting Unstuck: Healing From Trauma With TCM, Qigong & Movement
We all come into this world vulnerable, with seeds to grow into our strength. Some of us — through a combination of good fortune (i.e., family and culture we are born into, constitutional inheritance, or ability to learn) grow with minimal interruption from traumatic injuries and experiences.
4 Things Every DC Should Know About Levels of Care & Prevention
As health practitioners, we help people with their health problems and assist them with health promotion and disease prevention.
Helping Patients With Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease (PD), a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects motor function, has a slow onset over time.
February, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 02
A New Year Brings New Changes
By Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT
Well, last year was certainly a busy one. I have answered around 1,800 to 2,000 phone and e-mail questions from massage therapists, presented 23 seminars, sold hundreds of manuals and home study courses, and wrote several articles for massage publications. All of that and yet I can't seem to scratch the surface of getting information out to all therapists who are interested in working with and accepting referrals from physicians and directly billing insurance for their services.
I will be making changes this year in that I am beginning a consultation service rather than answering questions for free, as in the past several years. While helping massage therapists increase their income and cut their losses is my pleasure, I feel certain you will understand that I should be earning a living for my services, just as you expect to be paid for yours.
My next three articles will be based mainly on FAQs, beginning with this issue. I also will be conducting some informal surveys and asking for your assistance to gather information or stories on the efficacy of massage directly from your clients and your first hand experiences.
1. How do I go about being a provider for insurance companies?
Don't waste your time calling insurance companies asking to be a provider. You do not have to be a provider to bill insurance, unless you live in Washington state or Florida (and then only with those companies who allow or require you to be an "in-network" or "participating" provider). Most insurance companies do not yet accept massage therapists as in-network or participating providers. Services we provide are out-of-network or as non-participating providers. Policyholders or subscribers of the policy or plan most often must pay higher co-pays and deductibles.
Florida Blue Cross requires an LMT to obtain a provider number mostly for identification purposes but does not allow in-network or participating-provider participation. Blue Cross Blue Shield does not directly reimburse massage therapists in most states at this time. Do not confuse this with affinity or discount programs where they require you to be credentialed to be a "provider" in their programs. These programs most often do not offer payment directly by insurance companies for medically necessary and prescribed treatment. They only require that you give a discount to subscribers/policyholders. Their premise is that if you provide discounts, you will increase your client/patient load from subscribers of the insurance plans with which they are contracted.
My personal thoughts on this are that you have shown the insurance company just how low you are willing to drop your rates. I have yet to see where someone is able to significantly increase their income by participating in this type of program. However, I personally have seen where this type of participation has caused thousands of dollars to be lost when a company such as this crossed over and provided your discounted contract to other insurance companies, thereby causing several insurers who previously paid your fees to suddenly and without notice cut all payments by .25 percent for a full year.
2. Do I have to be a "certified medical massage therapist" to bill insurance?
No, it's your licensure/certification and the insurance company, policy or plan itself that makes the difference, not whether or not you are certified in any particular technique or program. Certification programs provide certificates to prove you have had additional training in a subject. Certifications and additional training are imperative to your learning skills, which in turn creates more clients and referrals. However, at this time they do not make the difference in whether or not you are reimbursed by insurance companies.
3. Can I bill Medicare?
Absolutely not! Please go to www.coalitiontopreservepatientaccess.org for more complete information on this subject.
4. Do I need a prescription to bill insurance?
Yes, you need a prescription because insurance companies do not pay for services that are not medically necessary. To prove medical necessity, the treating physician must diagnose a patient's medical condition because diagnosing is out of our scope of practice.
A physician must prescribe your services for a diagnosed condition on a written prescription for you to be reimbursed by an insurer. There are exceptions per some insurance company requirements, but they are few and far between.
5. Do all insurance companies pay for massage therapy?
Possibly. Almost all insurers reimburse for massage therapy services. The most upsetting part is that most will pay for massage therapy services but will not pay the provider most qualified and trained to perform massage. They WILL pay for massage therapy services when provided by a doctor or a physical therapist. This is about as uneducated as one can get.
However, this leaves us with an open-door opportunity where we need to get busy training the insurance adjusters, employers and the powers that be about what massage therapy really is, how it can save them money and how it most benefits the patient. They also want to know about massage therapists as professionals in the health care arena. How about making this the year to get busy with this project?
6. If most insurance companies will not reimburse a massage therapist directly, why would I want to consider accepting insurance for reimbursement?
You might want to accept insurance for reimbursement because those companies, policies and types of cases that will reimburse you are extremely valuable to your increased income levels. Another reason is because you will be increasing the number of patients you can be helping who could otherwise not receive your services.
Even if the insurance were to not reimburse your services, or if the patient's benefits become exhausted, these patients are coming to you by referral and are learning how effective massage therapy is for their health and overall well-being. They get excited to be able to receive services from someone who takes time with them, listens to them, consoles them and makes them feel better. Guess what? They go back and tell their physicians what a great therapist you are, what a great session they had and how much they were helped. Then guess what?
Their physician - happy that they have pleased their patient - refers more patients, some of whom have insurance that WILL reimburse you. Do you get these types of referrals from your non-medical, time-of-service, paying clients? Even if their insurance does not reimburse, you have "advertised" where it counts. Some will even continue to return while also referring friends, family and co-workers.
Had you not been willing to accept insurance for reimbursement, whether or not you are paid on specific cases, these physician-referred patients would have never known of your services. They would never have told their physicians how great your service is. We are keeping our profession alive within the insurance industry, constantly showing them and causing them to acknowledge (whether they admit or not) the need for our services in the medical field.
Look at insurance as a game: take it one step at a time, learn the rules, play to win, win some and lose some, cut your losses and keep moving forward.
Click here for previous articles by Vivian Madison-Mahoney, LMT.
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