There has been a lot of discussion regarding many manual therapy interventions and efficacy. Forever. As of late, these questions have come from insurers, which has made many therapists worried about their ability to continue to nurture practices that allow them to make a living. Whether insurers will or will not drop massage therapy, or any other “paramedical” expense, is not the focus of this piece, but rather HOW manual therapists can position themselves so that they are valued.
What's the deal with the money bits of all this?
Here are my thoughts...
It's expensive for insurers to pay out when you use up all your healthcare spending
When they notice a trend of high spending in one paramedical category they start to look into why (read: bottomline management stuff)
When there isn't sufficient, scientific data to support the why their assumption is “because people like it” and that is not a good enough reason to fund it. (I like pedicures but sunlife hasn't paid out a single pedicure I have submitted)
This is the scary part. Now because they don't have a good enough why, they start to introduce negotiations for less coverage upon renewal or hike up premiums to deter said paramedical expense from being kept on plans. Uh oh! Enter some pretty upset therapists
To help build their case, insurers have been taking to smear campaigns, like the recent GreenShield attack on massage therapy, which included guilt trips for those who decided to use massage identifying them as villains taking medicine from babies. Seriously, this actually happened. This is when therapists unite to rise up against this bad press and urge the insured to stand up for the right to preventative care. OORAH!
So insurers bad, therapists good. Right?
#disagree and here's why...
When therapists aren't rallying together because of some outside force threatening their livelihood, some are using garbage “facts” to promote their businesses like, “getting a massage is like sleeping for 8 hours” or “it will flush out toxins” or one of my faves “your muscle isn't aligned properly so this will put it in better alignment.” Eeek! 😳
So do you see the problem here? Not yet? How about these? I have seen massage packaged with tarot card readings, therapists offering up their opinions about vaccination within the context of their clinical practices, and some offering treatment for emotional and physical trauma waaaaaay outside scope. Just the tip of the very unprofessional iceberg, unfortunately.
What do insurers see? A whole pile of BS that they are having to pay for.
What is the solution?
Not completely sure, but here are some.
Manual therapists are strategically placed in a position that can greatly influence peoples lives in so many ways. Well informed, honest, ethical practitioners are able to not only address the obvious physical concerns (biological) but by doing this, and the manner in which they do it, influence the psychological and social concerns of the individual and within a community.
In an article written for Massage Therapy Canada, Donald Quinn Dillon RMT says that,
Massage therapy should position hard in the bio-psycho-social model, linking to benefits in mental health, sleep quality and returning injured workers to work. Our profession should look for strategic alliances and pool resources to campaign against the image of profit-focussed, insurance-exploiting practitioners to contributors in public health and economic accountability.
All kinds of yes to that. 🙌🏽
(Link to the Massage Therapy Canada article: https://www.massagetherapycanada.com/insurance/insurers-question-value-of-massage-therapy-–-a-signal-of-changes-to-come-4778)
Laurie Di Giulio
Aspiring Jedi therapist, lover of the art in human anatomy, reveler in the miraculousness of life.