What can I expect?
Right, so this part has changed a bit since 2020. Masks are required in the building. I know it’s been inconsistently enforced like, everywhere, but do not come into our suite with your nostrils or mouth uncovered. I don’t care if you just got a negative test, I don’t care if you’ve been vaccinated. Cover Your Face. There will be a COVID waiver with your initial patient paperwork (basically that you haven’t had a recent known exposure, don’t have symptoms, and there is no reason you should be isolating right now), and your temperature will be checked. I do let the disinfectant sit wet on the surfaces for as long as the label says after every appointment. Keep this in mind when the front desk admin leads you back to my room if I’m still wiping up and putting fresh sheets on the table. Sometimes looking at your tongue is helpful to me diagnostically. It’s usually nice but not 100% necessary for me to figure out what therapies I will use. I wouldn’t hate it if you texted me a picture when you make your appointment, but I’m not looking in person.
(When there isn’t a respiratory pandemic raging unchecked through the locale,) The typical acupuncture first visit will include taking a detailed medical history. Then we will discuss your general health and the problem you wish to treat. I will measure your temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and weight. I will feel the pulses of both wrists and look at your tongue. Based on the information I gather, I will diagnose your “pattern” according to the Chinese system of disharmonies and plan a treatment strategy. If applicable, we might do some cupping. Generally, we finish with acupuncture; I will insert needles, and you will rest on the table for 20-30 minutes. Then I will remove the needles and discuss your prognosis and things you can do to help it along.
How much does it cost?
The first visit is $125. It includes the aforementioned history, evaluation, and any therapies we find appropriate. Please allow yourself at least an hour, and fill out the paperwork in advance. I do follow ups in either half hour or hour sessions. The hour sessions are $100 and include whatever combination of therapies we can do in that time. The half hour sessions are $50, and are for a single therapy, either cupping or acupuncture. Electroacupuncture is a half hour option at $70.
Do you take my insurance?
Generally, the case is that your insurance doesn’t take me, so do check rather than assume it will. I am not in any provider network, so if you don’t have out of network benefits that means your insurance will not pay or count our visits toward your deductible. The office will provide you with the information you need to submit to insurance yourself; administrative effort for insurance billing has become more than it is worth.
What about Medicare?
So, the implementation on this is about as organized as COVID vaccination, which is to say, Not Great. It is my understanding that chronic (over 12 weeks) low back pain and no other condition is covered. The language I’ve read led me to believe it’s not even worth trying to bill if you are not a physician’s office. So far, I have not heard of any acupuncturist’s claim getting paid, even as a physician’s employee.
How many treatments, how long, how frequent?
How do you feel? Think on a scale of 1-10, if 1 doesn’t bother you and 10 affects your life quite seriously on a daily basis. I think 1-3 is a severity that may be treated as needed. At 4-7, I recommend treatment every 7-10 days. Beyond 8, treatment should happen more than once a week. Prepaid discount packages are negotiable and recommended.
Acupuncture is a therapy, just as medicine is. There are not many prescriptions that cure with one dose, and more serious conditions require a steady schedule, rather than analgesic as needed. In school, we learned that for every year a condition has been present, at least a month of regular treatment is necessary for notable improvement. That may be quite a bit of time and money. I believe three treatments is pretty reasonable to try before deciding it is not helping.
Acupuncture is best received on a stomach neither full nor empty. You shouldn’t skip breakfast, anyway. I will be looking at your tongue. Don’t scrape the coating; it tells me something, diagnostically. Also, try to remember not to eat bright colored candy or drink punch.
Expect that I will need access to your arms, legs, and possibly belly. Gowns are provided, but if you are more modest, wear sleeves and pants that push up. I will be feeling your pulse on both wrists. If you wear many stacks of bracelets, please either take them off before your appointment or make sure you can push them up.