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Why Don't We Value Affordable Health Care?

by Michelle Marcotte HHP MSTOM L.Ac.

Why Don't We Value Affordable Health Care?, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $40-60 sliding scale in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, JamulA low cost Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic draws people to it because of its affordability factor at the same time that it repels people because of its affordability.


In our culture, a U.S. capitalist culture, we equate value with money. The more something costs, the more value we ascribe to it. And yet, at the same time, we want to pay less for things we want and need. Those of us with more disposable income are looking for a bargain. The rest of us are looking for what we can actually afford. Both groups are  searching for the most value, at the lowest price.

This plays out in my clinic in three ways.

1. People who walk through my door, on one level or another, believe I am a less skilled acupuncturist with minimal or no schooling offering affordable services because the low cost is all my skills, training and services are worth.  (They mistakenly believe the value of my skills, education, and training are directly equal to the price I charge.)

2. People are willing to take a chance on me because of a personal referral, and/or price, hoping my skills are valuable. (They are looking for a bargain in the hope of getting the most value for the least amount of money.)

3. People come in who can't even afford my rates of $20-$40 a treatment and don't finish treatment protocols due to financial hardship. (Income inequality, unaffordable insurance plans and serious declines in disposable income create more barriers to accessing health care.)

Here is the truth about my health care services. 

Education- I have a B.A. and I graduated with an M.S.T.O.M degree that took over 200 semester hours to complete, with almost 50 hrs in biomedicine ( including terminology, anatomy, physiology, physpathology pharmacology, nutrition and diagnostics) and 33 in clinical internship. I had to pass a State Board exam to be licensed to practice and I am required by law to take CEUs yearly to keep my license current. I am also certified as  a Massage Therapist and Holistic Health Practitioner as part of my training as an acupuncturist. 

Skills- I first began practicing in 2006, opened my first CA practice in 2007, where I did thousands of treatments, practiced energy healing, herbal medicine and holistic health counseling while I went through my own illness, and opened my 2nd clinic in 2016. I have lots of experience and expertise helping people heal from a myriad of health complaints with acupuncture and TCM.

Values- From the time I was first licensed, I chose to offer affordable health care services because I know acupuncture and TCM are an effective, affordable and sustainable form of health care and I believe health care is a RIGHT, not a privilege. I know from experience that the value of a service or a practitioner's skill is not equal to the amount they charge for their services. And if we want healthier lives, and a healthier world, we need to be the change and model the health we want to manifest.

In other words, I am very well-trained, highly skilled and deeply committed to providing affordable health care. I could charge going rate ($65-$200/hr). I CHOOSE access, to as many people as possible.

Perhaps it's time for Americans, and especially traditional American business and politics,  to acknowledge that every American has a right to affordable, quality health care in all its forms. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge health care has always, only, been available to those who could afford it in this country. And capitalist views and values create a false narrative about health care- that it is only valuable if it is expensive, exclusively for those who can afford it and generates tremendous wealth for a privileged few.

If you share my values I hope you will make an appointment. Let's support each other in creating a healthy, sustainable community.