One of the more prominent signs that acupuncture is an up and coming star in the world of viable and effective health care is the rate at which different insurance companies are beginning to cover acupuncture care. When I first started practicing acupuncture 11 years ago, health care insurance for acupuncture was fairly sparse. These days Aetna, Cigna and Blue Cross/ Blue Shield all have policies and programs that allow for acupuncture coverage. In fact most of the major HMO’s, about 70%, are covering acupuncture to some extent. A survey released in 2004 indicated that between 2002 and 2004 the coverage of acupuncture through employer provided insurance increased 14%, higher than any other CAM therapy. Here in Eugene, Oregon, many employers have fantastic insurance plans that are very acupuncture friendly. The faculty at U of O, as many Universities do these days, has acupuncture coverage that is outstanding.
It is undoubtedly great news that acupuncture is on the rise as far as the number and percentage of insurance companies that are covering acupuncture. One of the remaining problems however, is that the coverage is generally not nearly comprehensive enough to cover the amount of treatment that may be needed for more chronic or serious conditions. The exception of course being many of the largest and successful employers, Universities and state and city workers.
Long story short, acupuncture coverage by health insurance companies is on the rise. It is only a question of time before all of the major companies are covering acupuncture treatment. The reasons are simple: acupuncture treatment is effective and cost effective, and more importantly, consumer demand is beginning to skyrocket. Call your insurance provider and ask about acupuncture coverage. If your particular policy does not have coverage, ask your insurer about other options they do have that include acupuncture coverage. You can also contact your local acupuncturist and ask them about which plans and policies are covering acupuncture most comprehensively.
Terry M. Chen, Licensed Acupuncturist
Open Sky Acupuncture, Eugene Oregon