The good news is that all Graduates of the McMaster University Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program will continue to be able to provide invoices for professional services to their patients, and Extended Health Care Insurers that cover those services will continue to reimburse their patients accordingly.
There are no changes in the general reimbursement rules by the Extended Health Care Insurers.
What is happening is that Licensed Acupuncturists (some our fellow Graduates from the Program), as they are now finally regulated by the new College of TCM and Acupuncturists of Ontario, will also be included in some of the benefits provided by some Extended Health Care Insurers.
These benefits refer to “licensed acupuncturist services”, but unfortunately, some companies will continue to call these services “acupuncture” instead of the correct professional denomination “licensed acupuncturist services”. Whatever the name, it is fair that these specific services are exclusively eligible for this profession as are the services provided by the other 10 on the list of professions with acupuncture within their scope of practice.
Predictably, all Extended Health Care Insurers
will soon proceed as explained above, and will provide reimbursement exclusively for eligible professional services, not for modalities (which is never been the standard of reimbursement anyway).
Meanwhile, still some Extended Health Care Insurers
may be reimbursing their patients for acupuncture treatments provided by regulated health professional graduates of the McMaster Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program, therefore treating these treatments as a separate benefit from their specific professional services.
Even if the insurance companies are still doing this, this is something that has to end soon as it is in contradiction with the recommendations by the regulatory bodies of most professions with acupuncture within their scope of practice. To the best of our knowledge the insurance companies below are either providing or denying reimbursement to their insured, for acupuncture treatments provided by regulated health professional graduates of the McMaster Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program:
1. Still providing reimbursement for acupuncture as a “special benefit” (invoiced as acupuncture and not as a specific professional service):
- Standard Life – YES
- Empire Life – YES
- Green Shield – YES
2. Before April 1, 2013, was in the process of considering providing reimbursement:
- Manulife – NO but reviewing the request by the McMaster CMA Program
3. Now refusing to provide reimbursement:
- Blue Cross – NO
- Equitable Life – NO
- Great West Life – YES until now. NO from April onwards as former “acupuncture” benefits have become “licensed acupuncturist” benefits
- Sun Life – YES until now. NO from April onwards as former “acupuncture” benefits have become “licensed acupuncturist” benefits
Insurance practices change all the time. Benefits provided by different companies change all the time.
Change is part of life. Change is unpredictable. Change is good as it provides an opportunity for innovation and adaptability.
The Extended Health Care Insurance industry current trend is towards providing every insured with a maximum annual amount that can be spent on any of the eligible services covered by the policy.
This means that all the available coverage could be allocated to a single provider.
In this manner, the market will reward excellence as better practitioners will be selected by insured individuals to consume the maximum amount allocated to them, which will greatly exceed the current limited amount allocated now individually to separate professional services.
This trend will reward those who provide great services, instead of consuming resources without quality control, as it is happening today.
Let's hope that the insurance industry soon makes this reimbursement practice the gold standard as then Graduates of the McMaster Contemporary Acupuncture Program will enjoy the competitive advantage provided by their superior training and performance.
Many Graduates of the McMaster Contemporary Acupuncture Program, who are applying what was taught to them, are already enjoying a position of dominance in their respective markets, and their practices are highly successful without the insurance benefits now being changed. Since this is the case for a significant number of Program Graduates, those failing to do so should accept personal responsibility for their situation, and put quick remedy to it by striving to provide an excellent service that the market rewards accordingly, with people willing to invest in their health regardless of how much of the treatment is reimbursed by their insurance plans.
Financial independence can only be achieved in a free market by providing massive value, that is why the McMaster Contemporary Acupuncture Program provides training that greatly exceeds the minimum standards of all the professions in Ontario with acupuncture within their scope of practice. Therefore, it should not be difficult for its graduates to provide services above the average, therefore generating rewards that match that value creation.