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    How much do you charge for acupuncture?
    Unlike most acupunturists, we participate in insurance programs. That means there are rules that we must follow and standards we must comply with. Acupuncture is classified as “physical medicine” and is billed in 15-minute increments, based on the actual time the acupuncturist spends with you. Our base price for the first unit of each treatment is $80. The second unit in a treatment (beyond the first 15 minutes) is $60. The third unit is also $60, but a third treatment is rarelly necessary. Before treatment can begin, each patient must have an evaluation and management (or E&M) visit, which costs $100. Follow-up exams, performed about every 12 weeks to check progress, are $70.
    Acupuncture for cash-paying patients:
    Most of our cash patients opt to keep their treatment time with the acupuncture short (i.e., they request that the acupuncturist spend less than 15 minutes in the room), so the base stays at $80. Additionally, we do everything we can to get our cash patients to qualify for the best discounts we can legally give (usually in the 20%-30% range). To do this, we offer an introductory “Acupuncture QuickStart Program” for $369 that includes: your initial exam, four acupuncture treatments, a sample bottle of herbs, two education/orientation sessions, and a “report of findings” planning session for $369.
    Acupuncture for insurance patients – when we are “in-network” (under contract):
    The short answer is: “It depends.” Your cost is completely dependent on the terms of your insurance contract. In this case, you have a contract with your insurance company, and so do we. Be assured, like with all out patients, we do our best to get you the most value, but everything is pre-determined by those contracts. Our legal agreement with your insurance company determines what we must collect from you. Since this can be confusing, it is our policy to always check the terms of your contract — especially your obligations for paying deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays — before we begin treating you. Your treatments may be one or two units, based on what the acupuncturist determines is best for you. It is our goal that you understand everything you will need to pay for before we start your treatment. Our goal is NO SURPRISES!
    Acupuncture for insurance patients – when we are “out-of-network” (not under contract):
    In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for people to receive “out of network” service. Quite frankly, some of the contracts we have been offered to participate in with insurance networks have been ridiculous. With the increased popularity of acupuncture, insurance companies are making it look like they cover acupuncture, but once you do the math, you figure out that it is really just “smoke and mirrors,” and they are not going to pay anything. This is why, as a courtesy to you, we will review your insurance before we begin treating. Many times, it makes the most sense for you to purchase a program out-of-pocket to receive the best price. Then, we will provide you with the documentation required by the insurance company so you can submit those documents for reimbursement. If they do pay, it is far more likely they will send the EOB (explanation of benefits) as well as the reimbursement check directly to you anyway. Our most popular option in this case is for you to pay up front, deal with your insurance company yourself, and keep whatever your insurance pays when the check comes.
    How can I afford your services if insurance won’t pay?
    We are happy to work with clients based on their budgets and their individual needs. We offer payment plans, family discounts and pay-in-advance incentives. We will do our best to provide the necessary information you might need to file a claim with your insurance company. Please note that not all providers cover all services. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to automatically assume that their doctor and or hospital will accept their insurance. It is true that they may “accept” the insurance, but it does not mean the insurance company will “pay” the claim. We will tell you beforehand how much your services will cost. If your provider declines payment, you will know your financial responsibility up front. Insurance does not cover phone consultations. In order to file a claim, you must meet with the physician in person.
    What is East Wind and what do you do?
    We are a team of healthcare providers and support staff who offer treatments for a variety of acute and chronic problems focusing mostly on pain, chronic metabolic problems, functional problems, and chronic autoimmune conditions. We have offices in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, Wis.
    We believe that the problems we treat involve some combination of trauma, stress-involved hormonal imbalance, toxicity, and inflammation fueled by poor lifestyle habits. Our process is to test, treat, and teach so that our clients will achieve higher states of health with the treatments that work and maintain their higher level of function through understanding how to take care of themselves.
    Our roots are in traditional Chinese medicine, but, as the Chinese have done, we have integrated concepts and techniques from many other sources that are consistent with the philosophy and practice of healing through natural sources. We use acupuncture extensively as well as functional Chinese medicine, which is medicine philosophically based in Chinese medicine with modern, functional adaptations.
    Our clients range from people who are completely debilitated by their condition to people who are functioning at a very high level and want to stay there.
    We provide a level of care that is very uncommon in the world today. Working collaboratively with our clients, we develop an optimal wellness programs that fit their lifestyles, solves their problems and optimizes their health. For over 20 years now, we have successfully helped thousands of people with a variety of health conditions including ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury/head trauma, cancer, depression, diabetes, pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, fertility issues (men and women), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, colitis, Crohn’s disease, hormonal imbalances, IBS, interstitial cystitis, obesity, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s, and other conditions.
    Do you use only disposable needles?
    Yes. The state of Wisconsin requires that clinics “offer” single-use, disposable needles to patients. At East Wind, rather than just offer, we have determined that single-use, disposable needles are the only needles we will use. Each of our acupuncturists is certified in “Clean Needle Technique” by The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, a national organization that upholds acupuncture standards.
    What qualifications do your acupuncturists have?
    All of our acupuncturists have master’s of science degrees in acupuncuture and Oriental medicine (requiring at least three years and more than 2,800 clock hours); have passed national board examinations; and are licensed (certified) to practice acupuncture in Wisconsin. The least experienced of our acupuncturists has nine years of acupuncture practice experience, and our most experienced acupuncturists has been doing acupuncture for 21 years. Among our acupuncturists, there is also significant experience in nursing and clinical exercise science.
    What is dry needling?
    Dry needling, also known as “myofascial trigger-point needling,” is a technique similar to acupuncture where a needle is inserted into a tender point in muscle. The word “dry” began being used to differentiate it from “wet” needling, which involved the injection of fluid. When it was discovered that it was not the fluid, rather the act of manual stimulation through needle penetration, it became known as dry needling. Piggy-backing on the increasing popularity of acupuncture, dry needling has become a relative common procedure in physical therapy and chiropractic offices in some states. In acupuncture, it is called “ashi” point needling and was developed in China some 2,000 years ago.
    What is the difference between acupuncture and dry needling?
    Dry needling is a subset of acupuncture. It is a style or specific way of doing acupuncture. Despite this, the difference really has very little to do with the technique itself and everything to do with the training required to do it. Dry needling is typically done by physical therapists, chiropractors, or other non-acupuncturists who were trained in seminars without specific regulation or requirements. Acupuncturists are required to get advanced degrees from accredited schools with upwards of 3,000 hours of classroom and practical training. Dry needlers try to differentiate themselves from acupuncturists by explaining how the thought process is different. But the only significant difference is in the educational requirements and the amount of experience that is gained before being “turned loose on the general public.” If you are interested in “dry needling,” we are perfectly willing and able to perform that style of acupuncture for you.
    How much experience do you have?
    The average acupuncturist in the United States sees about 25 patients per week. At East Wind, we have done over 60,000 treatments and are currently averaging about 100 acupuncture treatments per week. In addition to acupuncture, Mike has a total of 40 years in healthcare as an exercise physiologist with a specialty in preventive and rehabilitative cardiovascular health. He is also a wellness expert. Carol is a nurse with 25 years of overall healthcare experience. Bonny has been practicing acupuncture for over 10 years. We have worked successfully with hundreds of patients with infertility issues, chronic pain, and autoimmune diseases. Five years ago, we introduced a highly successful comprehensive wellness program that incorporates health coaching and functional medicine.
    Does acupuncture hurt?
    In Chinese, we say that acupuncture is “bu tong,” which translates as “no pain.” The needles used are very fine, similar in thickness to a cat whisker. In most cases there is little if any discomfort. We often tell patients that “at its very worst, acupuncture is less painful that plucking your eyebrows.”
    How many acupuncture treatments will I need?
    The number of treatments you need depends on many factors. The most important factors are: the significance of the problem, your goal for having acupuncture, your overall health, your habits, your age, other treatments you are receiving, and medications you take. Acupuncture is a therapy and, in general, the longer you have had a problem, the more treatment will be required to have an impact. Some people respond quickly, and some people respond more slowly. In general, we put treatment goals into three categories. The first level is “relief care,” which is accupunture treatment to get relief or to see significant improvement. During this part of your treatment, we break the negative pattern that has been causing your symptoms. The second level is “corrective care,” which is when we establish a new pattern of function. The third level is “wellness or maintenance care,” which will help keep you well. Each of our patients has a individualized plan of care that they are following.
    What about Chinese herbal medicine?
    Unlike Western herbology, Chinese herbal medicine combines several herbs into formulations designed to treat patterns of imbalance in the body. Balancing an imbalance will lead to improved function and greater health. Throughout history, the Chinese have looked to natural sources within their own environment as well as those from other lands to find ingredients in nature that address the imbalances created by illness. The study of Chinese herbs has led to the discovery of many key ingredients that are now the basis of many drugs. Our herbal pharmacy contains many proprietary blends designed to strengthen and balance the body to function better. Chinese herbs are very powerful, but to be effective, they must be prescribed according to a proper Chinese diagnosis and administered on an individual basis.
    Are Chinese herbs safe?
    In recent years, there have been problems with contamination and proper species identification with Chinese herbs coming out of mainland China. Knowing this, we scrutinize and vet our herbal suppliers. We purchase nearly all our herbal products through Evergreen Herbs because they have long demonstrated a commitment to quality, and we personally know and have the utmost respect for the brother and sister team of Johan and Tina Chen, who run the company.
    I just had my labs done. Can we use them in place of your labs?
    Sometimes the labs your doctor order are useful to us and sometimes not. We’re always happy to take a look at what you have. One of the things that distinguish us from the standard approach is that we look at testing differently and do tests that are usually not included in standard labs. The reason for this is that, unlike your doctor, we are not interested in figuring out which drug is appropriate for your problem. Rather, we want to know which systems are malfunctioning and the extent of that malfunction. That way, we can better determine which natural treatments, lifestyle changes, and dietary adjustments might work best to correct the problem. It is our goal to get you the biggest bang for the buck.

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    Mike writes for Nature’s Pathways magazine about topics such as latest technologies and treatments, mindset, exercise, sleep, and nutrition.

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