I’ve been blogging weekly for the past 3 months now on my new Hebrew blog on community acupuncture. Many Israeli practitioners are reading it, as I can tell not only by statistics but also by the many comments submitted (average of 7.3 per post). The best feedback I got so far was from an acupuncturist who called me last week and told me something like: you gave us all a real kick in the butt…! I couldn’t ask for more.
One post got 35 responses. It was on realizing some economic realities, such as how much money people in Israel actually bring home vs. how much we expect them to spend on acupuncture. I think some readers were quite shocked to discover how truly unrealistic are some of our expectations. For instance, seeing an acupuncturist, once a week, at the going average rate of a private out-of-pocket treatment, would cost about $250 a month. For 70% of the population, this means somewhere between 9% and 30% of their monthly household income, 14.1% being the average.For two members of a family to seek weekly treatments would mean spending an amount equal to what they spend on housing. Some of the readers found this to be quite sobering, while others refused to come to terms with this reality, and accusing me of not presenting a “balanced” enough view (you gotta love ‘em…).
One of the more interesting debates I had was with one Israeli practitioner who lives in the States and even volunteers at a low cost walk-in clinic. Apparently he had a bad experience being treated at one of the community clinics in his neighborhood (the acupuncturist left him in his recliner for 2 hours), and he posted all about it in a response to my book review on Noodles, throwing in many comments on the inferiority of the practitioners of CA who only use distal acupuncture and do not give a “full” treatment. Luckily I felt capable enough to answer him based on my own experience and that of all CAN clinics. It was quite an exercise in sarcasm and restraint. Seems like the good old arguments remain the same everywhere.
I’m really happy to infect others with my enthusiasm, though, as more acupunks are preparing to dive into the world of community acupuncture here (the phones and emails keep coming…). The places I know about that are opening are mainly in peripheral areas of the country, which is great news…!
The big difference between here and the States has to do with the healthcare system. The Israeli system enables anyone to get decent healthcare, and that is a huge difference. Even complimentary medicine is becoming more mainstream, ever since public healthcare institutions started offering alternative medicine at more reasonable prices (a process that began about 10 years ago). So in a way, CA here faces a different challenge. On the one hand, the need for decent healthcare is not as acute, so it’s more difficult to offer an alternative to accessible Western medicine. On the other hand, being more mainstream, it might be easier to promote acupuncture, the bigger challenge being how to differentiate CA from these public healthcare institutions who offer it at a better price than private treatments, but not in a community setting and with various restrictions (with additional insurance they offer acupuncture at about 25$ per treatment, but many limit the treatments to 16 a year, only 30 minutes, etc.). Acupuncturists who work there aren’t well paid at all, so that’s another aspect that makes CA so appealing to many.
Personally I’m looking to leave the community center and open my own place, expanding to 3 times a week. Yesterday I treated a 94-year-old chap who came in with his wife. This guy, born in 1915, had the tongue and pulse of a 20 year old! They were referred to me through their daughter in Australia, who googled up an acupuncturist in Jerusalem…I keep smiling just thinking about him and his lovely wife who took credit for his good condition (“He’s well taken care of…” were her words).
Last week I was given a booth at a community center fair near my house. Bringing my Lafuma along turned out to be a great idea, as I demonstrated some of that Dr. Tan magic on a few folks. Keeping my cool in face of these successes was quite a challenge – check out the poker face !