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Home > Newsletters > October 2005 > Getting Our Money's Worth?

Getting Our Money’s Worth?

By Mike W. Bowser, L.Ac.

As 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 Licensed Acupuncturists.

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

This Month's Articles

October, 2005
Volume 3, Number 10

Getting Our Money's Worth?

Kick the Sugar Habit and Save Yourself from Diabetes with Chinese Medicine

Health Preservation & Rehabilitation after Childbirth

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor

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