By Megan Berg, Admissions Counselor at Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine
If you were interested in seeing an acupuncturist in California before 1976, it would have proved to be a challenge. At the time acupuncture was unregulated and considered an illegal medical practice. It was only 36 years ago that then-Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill legalizing acupuncture in the state.
Jacques MoraMarco, academic dean to the master’s program at Emperor’s College, was one of the very first practitioners to take the licensing exam in California. Over the past four decades, MoraMarco has seen the incredible changes in accessibility and acceptance of the medicine. Although acupuncture has gained legality and credibility over time, new legislation is hoping to create even more extensive access for Californians.
1 million new acupuncture patients each year
How widely accepted has acupuncture become? According to NCCAM, a 2007 National Health Interview Survey estimated that 3.1 million adults and 150,000 children have used acupuncture. The survey also showed that 1 million people each year are trying acupuncture for the first time.
Health insurances to cover acupuncture in California
Unfortunately, acupuncture is still too expensive for a great number of Californians. This disparity is mainly due to acupuncture not being covered by all insurance plans. However, new legislation is changing insurance standards, and Governor Jerry Brown is playing a role in transforming the field of acupuncture once again.
On September 30, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed 2 bills that will have health insurance plans cover acupuncture treatments for individuals and small businesses starting in 2014. The measures that Governor Brown signed are SB 951 by state Sen. Ed Hernandez D-West Covina, and AB 1453 by Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and they define what are called “essential health benefits” under the federal health care reform.
Patients will benefit
The legislation requires that all insurance policies cover acupuncture treatments for nausea and pain. Not only does this action make acupuncture more affordable and accessible, but it also places acupuncture at an equivalent level with Western medical practices for treating two major medical conditions. These are historic times for acupuncture but most of all for patients who will benefit from this new legislation.
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