New Law Includes Acupuncture!

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?

Come on Downtown for some Acupuncture!

I am excited to share the news that I have moved my office to downtown San Francisco!

The time was right for making a change. After nearly a decade in my home office, I decided it was time to rejoin the bustle of downtown. I am now working with Peggy Newcomer, DO, Board Certified Family Physician.

My new office is located on the 12th floor of the historic Mills Building. Centrally located, there is a parking garage beneath the building and under adjacent buildings for your convenience. Arriving by transit, the Mills Building is just one block from Montgomery Street station (BART/Muni).

I look forward to seeing you downtown!

Boland Family Acupuncture
220 Montgomery Street, Suite 1212
San Francisco, CA 94014
415.282.1766
hnbolandlac@sbcglobal.net

Acupuncture, Your Health, and the World Series

Tomorrow is Game 1 of the 2012 World Series–the San Francisco Giants against the Detroit Tigers!

Not everyone reading this post is a baseball fan, but keep reading to see how similar we are to all of the Giants and Tigers players.  Professional baseball players have gotten where they are for a variety of reasons: talent, luck, and physical conditioning, among other things. You may think that you have nothing in common with  professional athletes, but you do. One of the key elements of their success is their team of health care providers both on and off the field. Without this team of medical professionals, these athletes would not be where they are today.

What does this mean for the rest of us? We all have our own team of professionals. Look around you — who are the ones who keep you going on a daily basis? Who helps you out when you’re hurt or ill? More importantly, who helps keep you going when you are well? Wellness care is equally essential, if not more, than intervention during illness. In fact, in ancient China, doctors were often fired when their patients became ill!

Western medicine is designed to treat illness, and in a lot of ways it excels in its endeavor. However, can you imagine a life with minimal pain or illness? While we all hold different keys to our own health, here are some ways to bring your health back to your consciousness:

1) Sleep. It can be as simple as knowing your natural circadian rhythm. As much as you can, allow yourself to fall asleep naturally, then see what time you wake up, without help from an alarm. You’ll learn a lot about your internal clock, and may not have to fight the pillow as much if you can keep to your natural rhythm.

2) Exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to work out 5 times per week in a gym. Look at your day-to-day patterns. Are you sitting for 9 hours at work and then another 4 -6 at home? Stand up more, walk the halls, get outside at lunch, and take the breaks that are provided to you.

3) Gather your friends. Maintain your friendships, be active with them, make meals together, enjoy cups of coffee or glasses of wine, and be sure to laugh on a regular basis.

4) Gather your health team. Keep up on your regular dental appointments, get acupuncture monthly even when you feel fine, see a great chiropractor or Pilates instructor to keep up your physical alignment. If money is a concern, stagger your appointments so that you have something every other week. The bottom line is that health is cheaper than illness.

And, for those Giants fans, go team!

Acupuncture for a Healthy Autumn

I hope you had a lovely summer filled with sunshine, family, and good health. Autumn has begun, the kids are back in school, and most of us are going to be working hard for the next several months. Now is a great time to take a quick break to assess your state of health. Start by taking three slow, steady breaths — in through your nose, out through your mouth. Do you notice any tension in your body? Perhaps you feel a tightness in your upper back, or a low-grade headache. Do you notice a need to rush through these breaths? How else do you feel? Are you sleeping soundly through the night? How is your digestion? Are you able to focus and concentrate on your tasks each day?

While is rather common to ignore signs of tension or illness, taking a proactive approach to your well-being has many benefits. I have found that maintaining health and wellness is easier than working hard to achieve this state once illness has set in. If your body is showing signs of fatigue or tension, be sure to listen. Take a look at what you are eating, get yourself to bed an hour earlier tonight, get some light exercise, and by all means, get some acupuncture.

Happy Autumn!
Holly<

The Great Health Care Debate: Who Receives Acupuncture More, Women or Men?

Who seeks acupuncture more, women or men?

In my practice, the number of women I see is well more than double the number of men. Women’s reproductive systems are more complicated than men’s, thus women are more likely to seek care for hormone-related issues. However, in a family practice such as mine, this should not account for the high proportion of female patients.  Given that I treat pain, stress, insomnia, digestive issues–really anything related to inflammation, where are the men? I know that men are active, have pain and injury, experience stress and insomnia, so how are they treating themselves? Or are they?

I often hear from women that they are trying to get their male partners to try acupuncture. They love it, and just know that their partner would also love it. More often than not, it’s the wife or girlfriend who makes the appointment for her partner.  When I probe my female patients as to why their partners are hesitant to try acupuncture, they typically tell me that their partners don’t like going to the doctor or are afraid of needles. As some women describe it, he’s got to have his arm dangling from his body in order to seek medical attention.

This begs the question, what does it take to reach out to men? Do men need to be in crisis to seek medical care?

Take a moment and add your two cents.

A Child’s Pain–the Dreaded Ear Infection

I have noticed that childhood illnesses travel in packs. Last month it was a croupy cough. This month’s affliction seems to be ear infections.  As a parent, you may be wondering, what’s next?! While childhood illnesses are rarely life threatening, they can be uncomfortable for the children, can lead to sleepless nights for the whole family, and may result in lost work hours.  Apart from putting your child in quarantine, here are some ideas to consider:

1) Make sure your child’s hands get washed several times per day.

2) Teach your child how to cough and sneeze into the crook of his/her elbow, which minimizes those germs all over the hands.

3) Feed your child whole foods: steer away from processed foods and make healthy choices for them, such as water instead of sugar-filled juices, fruit, grains, yogurt, and of course, vegetables and lean meats.

4) Supplements: probiotics (acidophilus, etc) are easy to administer, and are a good idea on a regular basis–not just when your child is on antibiotics.  My brand of choice is Jarrow. You can buy probiotics that are marketed toward children, or you can open a capsule and pour half of it onto cereal, into yogurt or applesauce. Probiotics have no taste. Just mix them into whatever you choose.

5) Acupuncture, aka Shonishin. I see a lot of children when they are in distress–the ear infection that kept the family awake the night before, or the cough that has lingered for weeks. However, regular, monthly treatments can keep your child from experiencing the worst cold symptoms. For children under about 8 years old a treatment is brief, and involves specific tools such as “rake” and micro needles for pediatric use.  I have worked with newborns, toddlers, and kids of all ages, and have found that children respond very quickly to treatment.

Finally, a word on antibiotics for ear infections: in my experience, antibiotics can effectively rid the ear of its infection. However, the fluid and pressure that have built up in the Eustachian tube and behind the eardrum are typically still present. Acupuncture and light massage can help drain the fluid back down the Eustachian tube, thus completing the healing process within your child’s ear.

And, for the adults reading this, have you washed your hands lately?