Gearing Up Locally for Obamacare

As an Essential Health Benefit, acupuncture will be covered by all insurance plans in California starting in 2014. This will give patients much greater access to one of the safest, most effective healing modalities available.  Here’s a short video explaining some of the coming changes (link).

HOW WILL I ACCESS ACUPUNCTURE UNDER OBAMACARE?

Health Care Reform (Obamacare) calls for the development of community-based healthcare, called your “medical home”.  These include facilities that offer a diverse set of health management options.  Alongside traditional Western doctors and nurses, you will be able to access health support groups, exercise and rehabilitation classes, preventative care, and of course, cost-effective acupuncture.

Healthcare providers – from the biggies like Kaiser Permanente to smaller doctors’ offices – will most likely promote acupuncture.  But be advised:  medical doctors who perform acupuncture are only required to have 250 hours of acupuncture training.  Compare this with licensed acupuncturists and the over 2,500 hours of study and practice that are required for licensure.  Which is going to be a better use of your time and money?

Your primary health care provider may be a licensed acupuncturist who, in California, is licensed to:

  • examine
  • diagnose
  • order labwork and tests
  • treat
  • prescribe

This applies to most health problems, from common acute illness to chronic pain or injury recovery.  (Emergency or “red flag” patients are referred to an MD or other urgent care provider.)

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR 2014 AND BEYOND?

Most licensed healthcare services should be available to you, regardless of your income level. Some insurance policies may limit the number of visits it will cover.  And different services may have different limits.  When choosing your coverage, check to see how many visits per year are allowed.  A minimum of 20 acupuncture visits per year should help you be prepared for a severe injury or multiple illnesses.  Also ask what types of diagnoses are covered as  some insurers only cover pain-related acupuncture treatments.  Having insurance will usually not inhibit your ability to pay out of pocket for services they don’t cover.

WHAT ABOUT WORKERS’ COMP?

If you have an acupuncturist with whom you have established a doctor-patient relationship, you may predesignate that acupuncturist as your treating physician when you have need of work-related injury care.  The necessary form is available from your acupuncturist or your employer’s Human Resources department.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR CLINIC AS A “MEDICAL HOME”?

To meet the needs of our growing patient base, our clinic plans to expand to offer more of these services.  We may accept insurance.  We’ll keep you posted!

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