Although many people have realized that acupuncture is a safe, effective, all natural treatment option for acute or chronic pain, there is still a lot of confusion about how much it should cost, and whether or not insurance will cover it.
As part of City Acupuncture's ongoing mission to make acupuncture a mainstream part of American healthcare, we have created this handy guide to help you figure out whether acupuncture is right for you (and your pocketbook).
Figuring Out How Much Acupuncture Costs in New York City
There are two major types of acupuncture practice in New York City. If you are trying to determine how much acupuncture costs and decide whether it's affordable for you, the first thing to do is figure out which kind of acupuncture office best suits your needs. Here is a brief run-down of each, including the average cost:
1. Private Practice. This is the most common type of acupuncture practice in New York City. In a private practice, there are small, individual treatment rooms that each have a massage table surrounded by four walls. The tables are often heated or padded, and there may be pleasant, Asian-inspired decorations. There is often gentle, new-agey music playing to help you relax during the session.
On average, a private practice will charge between $80 and $120 per hour long session in New York City. There is often a higher fee for a first time visit, which can run 90 minutes. Insurance is rarely accepted, but the acupuncturist may be willing to give you something called a “superbill,” which is a form that is filled out with the appropriate codes so that you can submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement.
- The acupuncturist will spend a lot of time with you. It is common to have up to 30 minutes of one-on-one consultation time per visit.
- The treatment room set up ensures you will have privacy while you rest with the needles in.
- There is generally a very calming, spa-like vibe to these offices.
- Because they see fewer people, an acupuncturist in private practice may not have as much experience with your specific problem. It is always a good idea to ask the acupuncturist about their experience before making an appointment.
- The cost is high. It is common for a treatment plan to last 10 sessions, which could be $1,000 in out-of-pocket expense to treat your problem. For many people this is a small price to pay for the atmosphere and one-on-one experience, but for others it’s just not affordable.
- Although the Superbill is helpful, it will only work for people with acupuncture coverage, which is still rare in New York City.
2. Community Acupuncture Practice. In a typical community acupuncture practice, multiple massage tables (or reclining chairs) are set up in a large, communal room. This open set up allows the acupuncturist to see many more people per hour. Most community acupuncture practices do away with the spa-like trappings in order to focus on delivering the highest quality of acupuncture at the lowest possible price. This is much closer to the way acupuncture is practiced in China, where acupuncture originated.
- The community acupuncture business model allows the acupuncturist to charge substantially less for treatments. On average, you should expect to pay about $40 per session for a community acupuncture session in New York City, and some places even offer discounts on packages, further lowering the cost of acupuncture treatments.
- The higher volume of patient flow assures that a community acupuncturist has a lot of experience. Whatever problem brings you to acupuncture, it is likely that a community practice has seen that problem multiple times already which increases the efficacy of the treatment.
- Most community acupuncture places employ a group of acupuncturists. This makes scheduling much easier, as they can be open longer hours and even on weekends.
- Some people are not comfortable with getting acupuncture in an open room where others can see them. Some community acupuncture practices employ screens to partially block each table, but ultimately it is less secluded than a private practice.
- Because a community acupuncturist is seeing so many people (between 4 - 6 per hour is common), they have less time to speak with you. Instead, they rely on your initial paperwork to diagnose your problem and only ask necessary questions at the time of your visit.
- Most community acupuncture places will not accept insurance, or offer a superbill.
One Final Note On Insurance
Recently there has been a major increase in the number of insurance plans that will cover acupuncture in New York City. If you have health insurance, the first thing you should do is check with them to see if you have acupuncture coverage. If you do, go to your insurance company’s website to find a participating provider in your area. If you prefer you can use our free benefits check service by clicking here. You enter your information and we will call your insurance company, assess your benefits, and get back to you within 48 hours. Pretty neat.