I had a phone inquiry the other day when I got into the office. The message said “I want to know more information, please call me back at 818.xxx.xxxx”. No name, no other info. So I returned the call and, after some explanations, got through to the person with the question.
She wanted to know what services I offer. I explained to her that I practice Traditional Oriental Medicine, which means I combine needles, herbs, dietary advice, exercise and other treatments, as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis. I then told her that, in general, my patients all receive acupuncture and most of them opt for herbal formulae as an adjunct.
She asked me about fees, and I countered by asking if she was coming in as a cash or insurance patient. She said her insurance wouldn’t cover acupuncture, so I told her that acupuncture was $190 for the first visit, $85 thereafter and the herbs were usually between $5 and $10 per bottle and that a bottle tends to last for two weeks to a month. I also explained that if she needed acupuncture with electrical stimulation the fees are $200 for the first visit and $95 thereafter. I also explained that additional therapies might be needed depending on her individual case. I said we would discuss those fees and treatments as the need arose.
She had started sputtering whilst I was speaking, and she burst out “$85? For that you only get acupuncture?” I said, yes, acupuncture treatments cost $85, and she countered with “and that’s all, for $85?”” Her voice was rising, and in the background I heard someone asking if she was okay. She got herself under control and managed not to hang up on me, but it was a near thing and I MAY have been imagining the good-bye.
I hung up, shaking my head, and went about my day. But the whole thing has been bothering me. I live in a large city, where people regularly go to Whole Foods for their lunch and Starbucks for their lattes. They drive their large SUVs or their import cars through miles of miserable traffic, getting the worst possible mileage and pay some of the highest petrol prices in the country. They have housekeepers. They think nothing of going to Burke Williams for a massage and spending upwards of $150. They regularly buy new clothes, eat out, buy music, and go to movies or the theatre. The spend money like it’s Monopoly money, until it comes to their health. Then, they want the most health care for the lowest price.
Now, I’m not talking about the folks on a strict budget. From those folks, I tend to get “Money’s really tight right now . . .” to which I say “As you probably saw on my website, I offer a hardship discount.” And they make an appointment, come in, and get their health back together.
So what do really get for the price of a treatment in my clinic? You get a health care practitioner who has spent more than 3000 hours in her initial training, as well as extensive, and on-going, post-graduate studies. A practitioner who applies her knowledge of herbs, human physiology, diet, the five elements, Daoist study, theology and human nature to every treatment. A practitioner who takes the time to talk, and more than that, to listen, with every patient. To really hear what the underlying issue is. A practitioner who won’t dismiss your health concerns, and who is part of a larger referral community so you are referred to other practitioners if that’s the most appropriate for your case.
Not to sound like a greeting card, but your health really is the most important thing you “own”. You really don’t have anything if you don’t have your health. It’s important to find the right practitioner to become a partner in maintaining your health, not the cheapest.
Think about it at least, and then go find the right health care practitioners to be on YOUR health care team.