“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
One of my last two classes for my acupunk schooling is
practice management where we discuss different aspects of running an
acupuncture clinic. The other night the topic was insurance, basically its
purpose, how it works, and some overview of what is needed if we want to bill
insurances for patients, etc. A topic such as health insurance mixed with the
hippy, alt. med. environment of acupunk school naturally leads to the telling
of insurance horror stories and how patients are frequently hurt by the big,
greedy, uncaring insurance corporations. I am not saying the stories aren’t
true or horrific because they probably are; it was the irony of the situation
that struck me because the next topic for the class was….fees.
After giving big, greedy, uncaring insurance corporations a
good ripping, one might expect a little more….um….understanding, when it comes
to deciding what a fair price for an acupuncture treatment should be. But the
horror stories seemed to drift out of the room, tucked away for another time
when we need to prove to “others” how frightening American medicine can be.
After much discussion, it seemed that $70 – $120 seemed about right for the
going rate for a one hour treatment, and the $70 seemed a bit antiquated for
the low end and probably could be pushed up to $75 or $80. The idea of
Community Acupuncture was discussed as an option for treating patients who have
less money, but you only get about five minutes of the practitioner’s time and
needles are hastily inserted and the acupunk is on to the next patient which
clearly isn’t enough time with the practitioner. This brings up a question for
me. As practitioners, where do we believe the treatment is? In talking at the
patient or having the needles in? Where is the healing? In our words or in actually
using needles to access the body’s healing abilities?
The whole thing seemed ironic to me, one minute we are
blasting insurance companies for not giving a rat’s ass about sick people and
the next we are solely concerned with how high we can (sorry, “should”) push
our fees, when acupuncture has an unparalleled position to arrange itself in
such a way that people can receive effective and accessible healthcare.
There is a scene in the movie City Slickers where
Mitch is talking with the old cowboy Curly about the secret of Life,
Curly: You know what the secret of
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: This. (Holding up his index finger)
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that
and everything else don’t mean shit.
Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?
Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.
I don’t think anyone else in that class had the same
experience I did, but it helped me figure out my “one thing”, my motivation for
opening a Community Acupuncture Clinic, effective and accessible healthcare
So what’s your one thing?