What Good is Medical Intervention If No One Can Afford it?

I’ve been reading with great interest the reporting about the inflated pricing by Mylan, Inc. of the life-saving device of the EpiPen. It should come as no surprise that pharmaceutical companies raise prices at the expense of patients who are in need, often sick, even dying. Take Martin Shkreli, for example, raising the price of a drug over 5000%. Making exorbitant profits from illness is deplorable.

As an acupuncturist, I have learned a particular skill set that can treat a variety of problems and thankfully it is not regulated by Big Pharma. Unfortunately, acupuncture is--almost always--cost-prohibitive for most people. Even if they can afford a single treatment and feel relief, many people cannot continue to use it because it’s too expensive for them. And most people need frequent treatments. Life is messy. We get hurt. We heal. Then there’s that cold going around…

My husband and I often talk about disability these days. He’s been working on a poet, Larry Eigner, who lived his life with severe Cerebral Palsy. Eigner created a large body of work, despite his physical impairments. We talk about the spectrum of disability, what counts, who is included, and whether or not most of us will experience it in some form the longer we live. These conversations make me think of the poor state of healthcare in America. Eigner says that, “a thing must be easy enough to do, feasible.” And when applied to acupuncture, I would add that a thing must also be affordable, accessible.

In October, we support POCA’s biannual membership drive by offering treatment discounts to our patients who are members of the co-op. We do this because LBCA wouldn't be here were it not for POCA--a generous cooperative of practitioners, patients, and organizations who share information of all kinds. 

I learned how to start this business from them and fiercely stand by our goal of making acupuncture "feasible," easy for people to try. Because with all the good acupuncture can do, what's the point of having a skill or the technology to help people if no one can afford it?