Rarely does a new law get me as excited as our new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. I had largely steered clear of the political bantering, or of learning much about the law until I attended a billing conference recently. I was incredibly pleased to come away learning that the law actually benefits Californians who seek acupuncture.
According to California’s interpretation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare as some people prefer to call it), acupuncture is considered to be an Essential Health Benefit. What this means, quite plainly, is that any insurance company that provides benefits for California residents must cover acupuncture.
One of the main questions that potential patients ask me is: “does my insurance cover acupuncture?” Prior to January 1, 2014, I would have to look up each individual plan to find out. Now I can very clearly state: Yes.
Now, is anything, particularly related to insurance, that simple? Not quite. Plans are still unique. Some plans will have deductibles to satisfy. Other HMO plans such as Kaiser or Brown & Toland here in San Francisco, though they do have to pay for acupuncture, have a small number of in-network acupuncturists. It remains to be seen what will happen within the HMO system. My hope is that the increased patient demand will force Kaiser and Brown & Toland to pay for out-of-network acupuncture. If you have Kaiser or any other HMO, do not despair. There are still affordable options available to you.
The exciting bottom line is that the Affordable Care Act essentially removed a few barriers to receiving acupuncture. Not only does it increase access for millions of Californians, it validates acupuncture as a useful, effective and ESSENTIAL method of treating a variety of conditions.
Ready to make your next acupuncture appointment?