The sense God promised a monkey

This is the letter I would send to my insurance company if I thought it would do any good:

Dear Insurance Company:

This letter is to inform you that I am saving you money.

Several years ago, when I couldn’t raise my left arm, you paid for–to verify, please check your records–the following: 3 office visits to orthopedist; 1 X-ray of shoulder; 5 weeks of physical therapy; 1 MRI of shoulder; 2 office visits to neurologist; 1 MRI of neck; 1 MRI of brachial plexus; 2 readings of first MRI; 2 sets of nerve conduction tests.

When all the aforementioned produced neither diagnosis nor cure, you did not have to pay for surgery the orthopedist wanted to do to see check for bursitis in the shoulder. You did not pay for it because I did not agree to surgery. The orthopedist had already told me there was no bursitis, and I didn’t relish a fishing expedition. I went home with one nonfunctional arm and just tolerated it.

Then one day a few months later, just on a whim, I said to the massage therapist I’d seen a few times for general otherstuff, “Would you look at my left arm?” and he ran his hand over it and said, “Oh, yeah, the humerus is pushed too far up in the socket.” He pushed it back down. I gave him a check for much less than you paid the orthopedist, and went home swinging my arm around like a windmill.

Some time later, when something in one of my fingers popped and pain in the palm ensued, I went directly to the massage therapist. Before I had finished describing the problem, he said, “That’s blah blah blah blah. Give me your hand.” I left with a functioning hand. The next week, I said, “What about that right foot?” I walked out without a limp.

This week he said, “I think I can make long-term changes in compression in your spine (and everything connected to it) so these problems won’t recur.” I was pleased.

Now, insurance company, this is where you come in–or, rather, don‘t come in. Because I paid, and pay, the massage therapist out of pocket. You don’t recognize he exists.

I could have saved you the cost of X-rays, MRIs, office visits to specialists, physical therapy, and, If I’d been really dumb, surgery and pharmaceuticals, because I consulted someone who knew what was wrong and how to fix it. His equipment comprises a table, a brain, two hands, and the knowledge and skill to use them effectively.

I do not expect your gratitude, nor do I expect any concern for my physical well-being.

I write because I want you to know that I’m doing my best to improve both my physical health and your bottom line.

If you had the sense God promised a monkey, you would do the same.


Postscript: I’ve since learned there’s another side to the insurance/massage therapist issue. I asked my current massage therapist, who is both brilliant and a saint, whether she would like to be part of the traditional medical community.

She said that would make sense, because then doctors could refer patients who need therapists’ services, particularly therapists who specialize.

But, she said, schools would have to “step up” and guarantee that all graduates had been educated according to the same high standards and that were highly qualified. The Texas Department of Health would have to be involved in licensing. The Texas legislature would have to take action. The insurance industry would have to agree. So the process would take a long time.

In other words, she said it won’t happen in her lifetime.

So. I apologize to the insurance company for implying it doesn’t have the sense God promised a monkey.

But I still want it to know that massage therapy did for $45.00 what traditional medicine didn’t do for a good deal more.



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