The short answer is that we don’t want to spend time doing insurance billing paperwork. We keep our prices low by simply treating a lot of people. If we do insurance billing, this takes time that we’d rather spend doing acupuncture. The most we want to offer are receipts that you can take to your insurance company yourself to request reimbursement.
The longer answer is that we are trying to create an alternative to the American health care industry.
Victoria Sweet, a longtime physician at the former San Francisco charity hospital, Laguna Honda, in her book Slow Medicine, chronicles the transition starting in the 1970s, from practicing medicine to administering health care. ‘Health care’ is a piecemeal process that, at its best, may superbly treat a disease but, at its worst, does not allow time for doctors to see the whole patient. We get referrals to specialists but we may not have a doctor who knows us. ‘Health care’ supposedly reduces costs and inefficiency— yet the US spends more per capita on health consumption than any other country — 17% of our GDP. And increasingly, our health insurance controls our access to care: whether and how soon we can see a doctor, who we can see, and what type of therapies we can pursue.
Community Acupuncture, as we see it, is an opportunity for you to experience being in control of your own health. You get to choose how much acupuncture you get, when you get it, and (within a scale) what you pay. For the most part, our acupuncture is affordable, convenient, and it is neither prescribed nor proscribed by your insurance company. You get the acupuncture you want, we get a modest livelihood doing satisfactory work. Your fees cover our costs and nothing more. If you are one of Sarana’s regulars, we know you, your preferences, appearance, and usual issues vs what’s new. This, we believe, is how medicine ought to be practiced. We believe that not doing insurance billing is how ordinary small-business acupuncture practitioners can change our world.