The AMTA 2012 Industry fact sheet says:
More than half of adult Americans (59 percent) would like to see their insurance cover massage therapy.4
The vast majority of massage therapists (96 percent) believe massage therapy should be considered part of the health care field.
I was a little shocked by those numbers thinking that they were really high. It always seems when the topic of insurance billing comes up that there are many who don’t want it saying things like: It will take away from true healing, We won’t be able to work on other areas of the body that are needed and will just be limited to the diagnosis, we don’t want the hassles with paperwork and HIPAA, we don’t want to wait forever to get paid and then be asked to reduce our fees.
If massage becomes a part of the health care system, it won’t be as difficult to bill and get paid – at least not from what I see has happened here in WA State where we already have the ability to become contracted providers with health insurance companies.
Yes there is a lot to learn and a lot to keep up with. In return you will get a steady stream of clients (yes I still call them clients- maybe it’s the one way I hold on to the art of massage). It has been one thing that has supported me in being able to survive in this profession for 24 years.
There is a really big opportunity going on right now that would allow massage therapists in every state to get massage covered by health insurance. It is the Affordable Health Care Act (that I wrote about previously on my other blog) which is about to be fully implemented when the states open their health insurance exchange systems (government site ) in 2014. From what I understand states can also opt out and use whatever Federal System is being created. Currently they are making the plans as to how to create and implement them. There is more info on each state in that last link. There are still many unanswered questions like what will happen to our current plans and how can massage get on the list of providers as mandated in (Section 2706) to be enacted into law reads in part: ‘A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider’s license or certification under applicable State law.’”
I am not sure if that means that the massage therapists will need to be licensed by the board of health in that state. WA and FL and a few other states are under the Department of Health. Most others are under a Professional Licensing division or board of massage and I am not sure if that would make us be recognized as health care providers or not. Do we need to be licensed under the Board of Health? I am wondering if that is how massage is covered in WA and FL although I thought someone on Facebook just said that in NY massage therapists can bill health insurance. (Could someone there verify that?)
So why am I so focused on getting everyone to learn how to bill and to get involved in the process of getting massage covered by insurance?
Because if we (the massage profession)/you as a massage therapist don’t get involved, you will have to just put up with whatever the insurance companies and insurance commissioners decide for us/you. Or as John Weeks of thethe Academic Consortium for Complementary & Alternative Health Care (www.accahc.org) who spoke at the Alliance for Massage Therapy Educators conference in Tuscon in 2012, said (and others have said)
“If you are not at the table, you are what is on the menu”.
Learn How to Bill Insurance for Massage and work to get massage covered by Health Insurance.