If you're like me, Milwaukee Community Acupuncture is the only place you have ever received an acupuncture treatment. I didn't realize how different MCA was from most acupuncture clinics in the U.S. until a while after I started coming. Most acupuncturists see only one patient at a time, so they are limited to just a few patients a day. Because of this, costs of treatment are much higher. However, acupuncture works better the more frequently you get it and insurance tends not cover it – meaning if you don't have a high disposable income, it is difficult to get the amount of treatment needed from this style of acupuncture. MCA circumvents this issues by seeing patients in a community setting and putting needles in arms and legs so undressing and private rooms are not necessary. This means they can see patients every ten minutes, and keep costs low by having so many treatments each day.
MCA's model is based on the POCA model. POCA, as you may have seen from the signs around the clinic, is the People's Organization of Community Acupuncture. It is a cooperative designed to help make affordable, healing acupuncture accessible to as many people as possible by having community style clinics, like MCA, located across the U.S. and Canada. Every POCA clinic has to have an affordable payment structure (like MCA's sliding scale) and a wide range of available appointments to be a part of the co-op. This is to ensure the accessibility of the treatments.
Patients can join POCA, too, and in fact comprise the largest percentage of members of the co-op. If you're a member at Outpost down the street, you'll be familiar with how this works – pay a fee every year to be a part of the co-op. The money you pay goes to the co-op (in this case POCA) so that they can use it to train more community acupuncturists, develop more training so its acupuncturist members can give more effective treatments, and give out microloans to help more community clinics to open. By joining, you are helping others just like yourself to receive the treatment they need. It's being part of a community, both locally and nationally.
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking – this sounds nice, but I already spend money on my treatments and I don't have any extra to spare. Right? I definitely know that feeling. Luckily, membership to POCA is also based on a sliding scale of $25-100 each year, so you can pay whatever amount fits into your budget the best. And, there are perks for you too! You will get three free treatment cards that you can give to three family members, friends, or others in your life who have never received community acupuncture. They can use the card to get their first treatment free at MCA, if they live in the area, or at any other POCA clinic – you or they can find other locations here: https://www.pocacoop.com/clinics/. I gave away all of mine last year and have already given away two of the three this year. It is a great way to introduce your loved ones to the beautiful healing and stress relief of acupuncture.
Additionally, you can get a free treatment for yourself the week of your birthday! What better way to treat yourself? There are other benefits as well – you can see the whole list here: https://www.pocacoop.com/membership/join-patientcom/.
Money is definitely a factor for me in my life, so I understand too well how much in can be for others as well. However, even if we only look at the savings for each of those four free treatments, that really adds up. Plus, MCA gives out discounted treatments for POCA members during the whole month of May! When you add in the support you are giving toward making acupuncture available for others and toward making your own treatments as accessible, effective, and informed as possible, it becomes clear how much membership is worth.
Acupuncture in a private room would never have been able to give me the same amazing results as my frequent treatments at MCA, because I never would have been able to afford them. I find myself feeling incredibly grateful that MCA exists here in our community, and I joined POCA because if there is anything I can do to help others get the same beneficial treatment that I have been fortunate enough to receive, then I am all for it.