Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Sign of Things to Come?

As the country moves toward self-funded insurance while listening to presidential candidates debate the merits of everything from national healthcare to requiring all employers to provide coverage, it is hard to predict where intergrative modalities will fit in. But they say everything starts at the coasts and moves inland. As usual, California is at the forefront of advancing coverage, and therefore legitimacy, of acupuncture practice.

Bill would require insurance to cover acupuncture

By Hector Trujillo/Staff Writer

A bill requiring health-care service plans and health insurers to provide coverage for acupuncture under a group plan or policy is being considered in the Legislature.

Assembly Bill 54, introduced by Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, creates new coverage requirements on health-care service plans and would impose state-mandated local programs.

"Every insurer issuing group health insurance shall provide coverage for expenses incurred as a result of treatment by holders of licenses under Section 4938 of the Business and Professional Code...,” according to the bill.

Section 4938 says any person other than a physician, surgeon, dentist or podiatrist who is not licensed and practices or supervises an acupuncture procedure involving the application of a needle is guilty of a misdemeanor.

“About 70 percent of insurers are currently offering acupuncture coverage in their plans,” said Janet Leach, a licensed acupuncturist. “It will make a huge difference with 100 percent of patients being covered.

“This bill will significantly affect the way acupuncturists are perceived in the medical profession,” added Leach, who has worked at the Five Cities Medical Building in Pismo Beach for the last seven years.

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