The other day, one of my patients commented to me, "acupuncture is covered in Canada, it stinks that we don't get that." Cost often keeps people away - I have received several "Thanks, bye" from potential patients inquiring about fees. While some insurance, health savings, and flex-spending plans help defray the cost, acupuncturists are largely cash and carry.
Integrated care more mainstream, but many patients still foot the bill
By JOY BUCHANAN Staff Writer
Just because people like integrated medical care, that doesn't mean insurance will cover it. Most people using complementary therapies pay out of their own pockets, and prices vary widely.
"My patients are consistently frustrated that the things they do with me are not covered by insurance," said Dr. Stephen Reisman, owner of Mind-Body Medical Center in Nashville. He does not accept insurance because reimbursements are unreliable and paperwork is costly, he says. "We cannot possibly do that and stay in business. The unfortunate thing about my practice is that it's not always accessible to people with lower incomes. They can't afford to pay out of pocket." A new patient visit with Reisman lasts an hour and costs $225. Follow-up visits are $145.
Dr. Dainia Baugh of the Nima Holistic Wellness Center said insurance is integrative medicine's biggest challenge. "Insurance companies may cover a visit if the doctor's plan for the patient is traditional, but if it doesn't follow strict insurance guidelines, then they may not pay for the visit," she said. "It's one of those things they are not willing to do."
Mohit Ghose, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, said that is not entirely true. "There is widespread coverage for different therapies," he said. "We can cover anything you want us to cover provided there is medical evidence to back it up."