California Acupuncture Providers Expect Surge in Patients Under ACA
In California, acupuncture providers are preparing for a surge in patients following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, HealthyCal reports (Bookwalter, HealthyCal, 6/18).
Under the ACA, health plans in state health insurance exchanges must provide coverage for 10 broad categories of benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs and preventive care (California Healthline, 2/21).
Last fall, California listed acupuncture as an essential health benefit.
Comments From Acupuncture Providers
Marta Correll -- an acupuncture student who expects to earn her license in the spring -- said that if insurance will help cover the cost of acupuncture care, more individuals are likely to seek the treatment.
Correll said she thinks that listing acupuncture as an essential health benefit under the ACA "legitimizes the medicine." She added, "A lot of people don't know what (acupuncture) is; they think it's this new-agey, voodoo kind of stuff."
Cary Friedman, a licensed acupuncture provider in Santa Cruz, said he also expects to see more patients.
However, he said the ACA could mean that he will earn less for his services per patient, as insurers reimburse at a lower rate than what he currently charges his patients out of pocket.
He typically charges $90 for a first appointment and $75 for each subsequent appointment, but he expects insurance to pay about $50 per appointment, $25 of which likely will come from a patient's copayment.Friedman said, "There will probably be a spot where I say, 'I can't take any more insurance people'" (HealthyCal, 6/18). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.