Prescriptions for massage therapy are being issued by physicians more frequently than ever.
Massage is often deemed to be “medically necessary” for the treatment of injuries sustained in automobile and work accidents, and has proven to be very effective therapy for a wide variety of conditions.
Fortunately for the injured, there are usually good benefits available for treating these types of injuries with massage therapy through automobile insurance policies and through workers compensation programs administered by the federal government. (On the contrary, major medical insurance companies often make it difficult or impossible to receive services provided by Licensed Massage Therapists). As an added benefit, covered massage therapy services are usually allowed to take place in a patient’s home, which makes it very convenient for patients to receive consistent therapy, assuming the provider offers this option.
There are some important considerations when selecting a provider of licensed massage services that will be billed through insurance, and these can be broken into two main categories:
1. The provider/therapist’s qualifications, reputation, reliability, etc.
2. The providers experience and competence in effectively billing for the services.
The first category is relatively self explanatory, but that does not make the task of finding the right provider an easy one. The quality and expertise of massage therapists varies considerably, and while some massage therapists conduct their business in a very professional way, many others are not exactly known for their reliability. What this means is that when you choose to work with an independent practitioner, unless you have a good personal recommendation or you know the therapist personally, you are going to be taking a bit of a gamble. You might get lucky and be very pleased, or you may find that the therapist is not particularly effective, or has a habit of missing appointments altogether, and end up wasting time and prolonging your rehabilitation.
Alternatively, you may choose to work with a company that does the job of screening and managing therapists for you. One benefit is that you may have access to more than one therapist, so you may have better odds of finding one that is best suited to you. After all, massage therapy and therapist’s effectiveness is very subjective. Further, therapists who are under some form of management may prove to be more professional and reliable, because they have someone to answer to other than themselves.
As for the second major area of consideration, some of the same principles apply. An independent therapist may have a wealth of experience billing massage through insurance, or he or she may be a complete beginner just experimenting with it. There are many little details (in addition to some major ones) that must be observed in order to bill through insurance without any problems which could cause an interruption in services. You will want to make sure that the provider you work with has plenty of experience dealing with insurance companies, and can afford to wait up to two months before being paid at all. The last thing you want to do is go through the trouble of signing on with a provider only to find a few weeks later that they got in over their head and can no longer provide services to you.
Most massage therapists don’t get into the field to deal with paperwork and red tape. Working with an established company that has an administrative arm to handle the billing while allowing the therapists to focus on the actual therapy may help you to avoid some of these common problems and get the therapy you need.
Daniel Melmed, LMT