Can we talk about…

Can we talk about discounts in health care?

One of the hot topics of conversation amongst my peers is discounts. Specifically daily deals type sites. I use them myself. For ziplining adventures or trying a new restaurant. I’ve never used them for  healthcare. That is what therapeutic massage is to me-healthcare.

These platforms didn’t exist when I started this work in 2001, so I’ve watched them spring up and grow exponentially in my field over the last several years. I’ve heard some stories! In listening to peers lament their participation in these discount programs and all of the problems therein, I’ve learned a few things.

  1. They aren’t all bad. Really. I’ve observed that loads of people who may not have otherwise had access to massage therapy are now able to experience our work. That’s great, right? Unfortunately many of these folks, only have the desire to pay such deeply discounted rates and jump from therapist to therapist. This means they never develop a relationship or have the opportunity to build a rapport with anyone. The real beauty in therapeutic massage is that, as part of a team, manual therapists can effect great change for people in pain. That takes time.
  2. Therapists get impatient. Often licensed massage therapists are pressured to make money quickly without any clear vision of what they would like their professional legacy to be or what problems they want to help solve for people. The pressure is immense and often participating in discount programs by cutting rates drastically allows for a full schedule super fast. Sounds great right?
  3. That brings us to my last observation: busy people who work for less than they are worth become resentful people who are just going through the motions to fulfill obligations while destroying their bodies. This is probably the hardest thing for me. I want my peers to succeed. I want people to find as much pleasure and usefulness in their profession as they can.

Massage is an act of service, a privilege for both giver and receiver. It’s really, really good. It’s useful. And at its pinnacle it should be kindness embodied, no matter the goal of each session. Any practice or policy that strains the therapists ability to deliver that should be questioned.

So, as for me and my practice…If I offer a discount (and that is a rare occurrence, indeed) it’s to celebrate, or to practice charitable giving for an organization that I support and it’s a great deal! The reasons for me to share my effort and knowledge with others for less than what I customarily charge are rational and it makes me exceedingly happy to do so. If a request or idea to discount isn’t logical or charitable, I’m probably not hopping on board.


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