Acupuncture is a very confusing topic. This medicine is becoming increasingly popular and increasingly misunderstood. There are many reasons for this. The first step to understanding is to look at the confusing realities that surround acupuncture in the United States.
Acupuncture and the medical systems that determine its use, are based in trying to help the body function and heal rather than the biomedical approach of trying to “fix” the body.
Acupuncture is a medical technique. Just as surgery is based on the use of a scalpel, acupuncture is based on the use of an acupuncture needle.
Acupuncture also refers to the medicine that determines the proper use of the acupuncture technique. Just as a surgeon is a doctor who does surgery, an Acupuncturist is trained in acupuncture medical systems to be able to treat patients with acupuncture.
Is it medicine or not?
Acupuncture has a long history of effective clinical outcomes and medical research. Acupuncture is still referred to as quack medicine by many.
VA considers acupuncture good medicine
Acupuncture is covered by the Veterans affairs medical system, but is not covered under other governmental medical programs like medicare and medicaid.
Health and wellness
Acupuncture is covered under many health savings accounts, flex spending and wellness programs, but often not covered by many health insurance policies that oversee these programs.
Acupuncture is required to be covered by insurance plans in some states. In other states the practice is sometimes unregulated and/or illegal.
Qualifications and certification
Acupuncture laws are state specific and determine the minimum qualifications of an acupuncturist (usually 4 years of clinical training and national board certification). Other allied health professionals are often allowed to use acupuncture techniques with little training and without national board certification.
This does not make sense.
Acupuncture is covered in some health insurance policies under only specific conditions. Often treatment has to be for pain and the acupuncture provider must be an under trained medical acupuncturist. Insurance often will not cover a fully trained nationally board certified acupuncturist for the same treatment.