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Acupuncture growing in popularity
Some people may not want to voluntarily subject themselves to the prick of a needle, but for Yuman Candace Schelske, the benefits of acupuncture far outweigh the process.
Once a skeptic, Schelske said it feels like a little "pinch or a prick, then it goes away."
"I'm the adventurous one. But (my husband) decided that he would come, too."
Acupuncture was once considered a fringe alternative form of medicine by many people, but that seems to be changing.
Local licensed acupuncturist Elyse Tera said that three years ago, she was the only acupuncturist practicing and licensed in Yuma - and now there are four.
"People have really come to realize the importance of acupuncture," said Tera, who owns Acupuncture of Yuma.
Though it may be growing in popularity, acupuncture - an offshoot of Chinese, or Eastern, medicine - is still not completely covered in the health care system in America.
"That's politics, that has nothing to do with health," Tera said.
Tera said she gives patients an invoice, which they submit to their health care provider. She said major insurance carriers usually cover it - but not always.
The solution: full coverage, Tera said.
She stressed that when health care providers place limits on covering acupuncture, such as only allowing a certain number of visits, it doesn't help the patient. That's because acupuncture not only helps take away some existing pain and/or symptoms, in other parts of the world, such as China, it's used as a preventive form of medicine, she said.
"Unfortunately, we don't go and see a doctor until the symptoms manifest."
But the lack of coverage could change with U.S. House Bill 646, which would amend the Social Security Act to provide qualified coverage under Medicare Part B and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., is currently in committee.
For now, Yumans like Schelske and her husband, Greg, say they plan to continue seeking acupuncture treatment. The Schelskes see licensed acupuncturist Sacha Landreneau, owner of Yuma Community Acupuncture.
The center, which recently opened, specializes in "community acupuncture," Landreneau said. Patients sit in a communal room in recliners and receive the treatment together, which Landreneau says makes the procedures less expensive.
Landreneau does not contract with any health care providers but said she offers sliding fees, with treatments ranging from $15 to $35 based on income.
Tera said she has a similar arrangements for patients who have financial difficulties, as well as special rates for veterans, military personnel and their families.
However if a patient chooses to have acupuncture performed or whether his or her insurance will cover it, Tera said it's ultimately about empowering the patients so they can make the choices they need to make informed decisions about their personal health care.
And, she said, acupuncture helps the patient to not feel helpless with their pain.
Candace Schelske recently experienced her fifth treatment. Once "full of stress," she now finds relief with acupuncture.
"I had no idea that I was tender in the points that I'm helping. I'm so relaxed, I feel like I could melt."