The Price of Acupuncture: How Much Should I Expect to Pay?
Want to try acupuncture, but not sure how much it will cost you? You’re not alone.
Expert Reviewed by Den Bremond, DACM, RN, L.Ac.
Founder and Head Acupuncturist at The Acupuncture Den in San Francisco
Demand for alternative health services like acupuncture has skyrocketed over the last five years.
Unsurprisingly, one of the first questions we get from patients is “How much will it cost?”. Cost transparency is a huge problem in our healthcare system and unfortunately, acupuncture is no exception. Many people aren’t even aware that their insurance might have acupuncture coverage. (Hint: If you’re in California, your plan is required to have coverage.)
What makes things even harder is that most practitioners don’t even post pricing online - you have to call or email them to get their rates!
But don’t worry! At Rupa Health we understand the importance of cost transparency, especially since many times you’re paying out-of-pocket for services like acupuncture.
We took a deep dive into the numbers from our database of nearly 200 acupuncturists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here’s what you need to know before you book an appointment.
What should I expect to pay for my first visit?
Average Price: $116
Average Visit Length: 90 mins
Lowest Price: $90
Highest Price: $413
An initial visit with an acupuncturist typically costs more because it includes a consultation and lasts longer than a follow-up session. First visits are typically 90 minutes, while follow-up visits are usually 60 mins. The extra time is used to go over a patient’s full medical history and to create a treatment plan.
Before your visit, be sure to call your acupuncturist and ask what the first session fee covers. Often, this fee only covers consultation and the acupuncture treatment itself, and does not include additional services people may opt to have such as lab work or massage.
What about a follow-up visit?
Average Price: $116
Average Visit Length: 60 mins
Lowest Price: $55
Highest Price: $250
Follow-up visits cost less because they’re 60 minutes long, and only include treatment (no consultation). Be sure to check with your acupuncturist on what additional services or treatments with them might cost!
$174 for a first visit and $116 for a follow-up may sound steep for a single treatment each, but the good news is this cost could be reduced depending on your insurance coverage!
Will my insurance cover acupuncture?
Good news! In the state of California, acupuncture is considered an “essential benefit”, and all insurance companies are required to provide coverage. That being said, the actual reality of coverage is dependent on your specific plan and health condition you’re experiencing. Call your insurance company to check your benefits - many acupuncturists will do this for you as well. See more about how you can do this here.
How many acupuncturists accept insurance?
While 100% of insurance plans have acupuncture coverage, not all acupuncturists accept insurance because of the hassle it can be to deal with the insurance companies and fine print.
However our data shows most acupuncturists in the Bay Area accept insurance, and it’s worthwhile to find a practitioner who is in-network. While the price data we collected reflects full out-of-pocket cost, many of our patients pay only co-pays of $20 - $50 per session.
According to our data, 70% of San Francisco Bay Area acupuncturists are in network with at least one major insurance company.
If your acupuncturist is out-of-network, a portion of the services could still potentially be covered by insurance, especially if you have met your deductible.
Price Transparency: Is this information available online?
As of May 2019, only a little over a third of practitioners have their pricing information available on their websites.
We see more transparency with their insurance information, with almost half of the group sharing that online. However, insurance coverage is almost always a case-by-case basis, depending on your provider and insurance plan.
What’s the best way to find pricing information?
The best way of finding pricing information is really by calling the medical practice. On the call, we suggest asking:
How much does a first visit cost? What would this visit cover?
How much does a follow-up visit cost? What would this visit cover?
I have [x] insurance, are you in-network with my plan?
If you’re out-of-network, do you bill insurance on my behalf or provide a superbill?
Do you have any package deals available?
We understand that this process can be very overwhelming as you search and manage various practitioners, and this is why Rupa is here to help! We genuinely want to reduce barriers to care and deal with this logistically nightmare for you. If you schedule a consultation with us, we’ll spend time understanding your situation and help find an acupuncturist that is best suited for your financial and health needs!
Other ways to save money & still get acupuncture treatments
Many practitioners offer package plans that will lower your cost per visit.
Group-based, community acupuncture is a model gaining in popularity in the US because its a lower-cost alternative to acupuncture, and works on a sliding-fee scale. This means you pay what you can afford, generally ranging from $20 - $60 a session.
In community acupuncture, you’ll be in a room with several people in comfortable, reclining style chairs. You’ll be able to keep your clothes on and most needles will be inserted in the distal parts of your body (arms and legs). It’s quiet and calming, and the acupuncturist will circulate the room and treat everyone.
References & Further Reading
The data in this article is based off our proprietary Rupa Health dataset of 250+ acupuncturists in the Bay Area.
At Rupa Health, we are on a mission to make integrative and alternative healthcare more accessible. We are passionate about finding you trusted holistic healthcare information you can trust.
Are you a patient looking for an integrative practitioner? We’re here to help! All of our Rupa Health certified practitioners go through a multi-level vetting process to curate the perfect match(es) for our patients. If you’re an integrative practitioner or MD looking to know more, please contact us here. We’d love to connect!