Since the legalization of acupuncture in California in 1975, California now has approximately 20 acupuncture schools that offer a master’s degree in acupuncture. These schools have the nation’s highest education requirement – 3,000 hours of training. California currently has 12,000 practicing acupuncturists, accounting for approximately 50% of all acupuncturists in the United States. In addition to acupuncture, acupuncturists can also practice: moxibustion, herbal medicine, Asian massage, qigong, and nutrition. According to the World Health Organization (World Health Organizations 2003-year report), acupuncture is effective and has a clear effect for the treatment of 28 kinds of diseases. Acupuncture is safe and effective, has no side effects, is cost effective, and is becoming more acceptable to the American public and modern biomedicine. Every year millions of Californians receive acupuncture treatments.
In California, acupuncturists are primary health care providers – they can independently diagnose and treat patients. Most of the health insurances offered in California include acupuncture benefits. In addition, California Worker’s Comp. Insurance and Covered California also include acupuncture benefits. In early 1980 Med-Cal included acupuncture benefits, but in 2009 due to financial difficulties in California, Med-Cal cut acupuncture, dental, vision and other benefits. In recent years, dental and vision benefits have been restored, but acupuncture is still excluded from the Med-Cal system. This is unreasonable. Many low-income elderly people suffering from all kinds of pain could benefit from acupuncture. The Med-Cal budget for acupuncture was only 3-5 million dollars a year. But acupuncture is a great benefit for low-income people especially for senior citizens. Covering acupuncture will also save money for the State because other medical services are much more expensive.