resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
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.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.