October 2005 >
Getting Our Money's Worth?
Getting Our Money’s
By Mike W. Bowser, L.Ac.
healthcare costs continue to rise in this country it becomes more and
more obvious the need for low cost effective treatment options. The
increased utilization of Complimentary and Alternative Medicines is
quickly moving to fill this void. Several obstacles still need to be
removed or lessened in order for America to regain control of its
healthcare economics. The areas that need to be dealt with include third
party reimbursement, provider opportunity and adequate education.
In America, as in most industrialized countries, healthcare is important
and a large amount of coverage is through third party payers. This can
be in the form of governmental entities, private insurance or HMOs.
Healthcare is one great example of where the private sector is wasteful,
with administrative overheads as high as 20-40% depending upon how one
categorizes things. In comparison, the federal government has shown that
it is averaging 2-3% overhead for its Medicare program. Some states (CA
and MN) are now challenging the status quo by introducing legislation
that focuses on a single governmental payer providing universal coverage
to all. In essence this is a kind of “Medicare for all”. Economics is
driving this change as wasteful, costly and incomplete coverage needs to
change as it is bankrupting our citizens and businesses.
At present time it appears that CAM usage is on the rise. This is good
news but somewhat perplexing when you realize that currently few
non-medically licensed providers have hospital privileges. As a result,
many CAM providers work in small multi-purpose clinics or singly in
private practice. Payment coverage is much better when utilization is
within an outpatient hospital setting as the hospital and insurance
industries have a close financial relationship. The next step is to
request that more insurance companies and hospitals pay for and employ
This brings me to the third and last issue about provider education.
While some professionals want to use acupuncture or call themselves
Licensed Acupuncturists, they lack the clinical and theoretical
knowledge required to take the appropriate licensing exams. Can you
imagine a professional provider with a doctorate degree and licensure in
one profession wanting to practice techniques with little or no training
in another? The word misleading comes to mind. We hope that people will
make sound judgments but for many of these providers, economics prevents
them from proper study or referral. Before you make that acupuncture
appointment find out what your state regulations for practice allow and
then find a provider who has a 3-4 year graduate level training from a
school that is regulated by the CA Acupuncture Board or the
Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).
These are the recognized authorities. Most properly trained
practitioners now have a Master’s degree in acupuncture, Oriental
Medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine with doctorate degrees on the
way. The best quality providers will have proper training that will
impact your results and your cost.
Best of luck and good health to you.
Mike W. Bowser, MTOM, LAc, DiplAc, HHP,
graduated with honors from the Master's degree program at the Pacific
College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, CA. He is certified as a
Diplomat in Acupuncture and also as a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner
with over a thousand hours of massage therapy training. He is a Licensed
Acupuncturist in both CA and MN, where he currently resides. He can be
reached at 612-721-6052 or by email at Naturaldoc1@hotmail.com.