I’d like to talk a little about the sliding scale model that I’ve adopted for my practice. People often ask what a sliding scale means, and why I want to accept payment on a sliding scale. So here are my answers…
WHAT IS A SLIDING SCALE PAYMENT MODEL?
First, what is a sliding scale payment model? The dictionary’s definition of the sliding scale is: A price scale, as of medical fees, in which prices vary according to the ability of individuals to pay.
However, there are a couple of factors you should consider when making a payment for a medical treatment. Think about the education that your practitioner has undergone to reach this level of their profession. An MD spends 4 years in medical school and 3-7 years in a residency program. A licensed acupuncturist completes a 3-4 year masters degree program studying traditional Oriental medicine and Western medicine, which includes hundreds of hours as an intern, treating patients in a clinic setting. That’s a lot of time, and you have an assurance of a knowledge and skill base.
Acupuncturists typically charge anywhere between $60-$120 for a treatment, and some insurance companies will cover some, or in rare cases, all of the treatment cost. Sometimes they will cover a percentage of the fee based on their assessment of what the insurance company places as the value of the treatment, and then the practitioner will charge you the remainder.
PAY THE RATE YOU ARE COMFORTABLE PAYING
What I tell patients when they are on their second treatment (the first is a flat fee of $65 because I carve out more time to get to know the patient history), is that they should pay the rate they are comfortable paying based on their current income, budget (what the are choosing to budget toward healthcare and maintenance), and the frequency of their visits (this will vary depending on my visit frequency estimation that is different with each diagnosis). My sliding scale fee is from $40-$65. As I mentioned before, a typical treatment costs from anywhere between $60-$120, so even the top of the scale is an affordable option.
ACUPUNCTURE AS AN ACCESSIBLE OPTION FOR THOSE WHO WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD IT OTHERWISE
Why did I opt to use a sliding scale model? This answer is a little more personal. Acupuncture is a medicine that is most effective with regular visits, but I find that a lot of people are prohibited from regular visits due to costs. This is an unfortunate reality. My hope is that with an affordable sliding scale, acupuncture will be an accessible healthcare option for those who would not be able to afford it otherwise. I have two treatment rooms running at the same time and see patients every 30 minutes, and because I save time not having to file claims to insurance companies and follow up with insurance companies, this is also a sustainable model for me as a practitioner.
THIS VARIANCE ALLOWS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
I have some patients who come with frequency and pay at the bottom of the scale, and others who come for “tune-ups” that feel comfortable paying at the top of the scale. This variance also allows for sustainability. What a patient pays varies depending on what they feel is a good option for them in their current phase of life. This is something I put entirely in the patient’s hands, allowing them to fluctuate in payment dependent on their comfort level.
I hope that this answers your questions about the sliding scale model, but if you have further questions feel free to contact me here, or at firstname.lastname@example.org