Andrea Elliott acupuncture - FAQ

Will treatment be covered by my insurance?
Some insurance plans cover acupuncture and it is best to first check with your carrier about acupuncture benefits for your particular plan. I am an in-network provider for CDPHP, Blue Cross Blue Shield (except for Blue Shield of Northeast New York including the FEP plan), Aetna, United Healthcare, the NYSHIP Empire Plan, and the VA, and can provide an insurance friendly receipt (called a “superbill”) for out of network plans.

Although Medicaid and Medicare may cover acupuncture treatments where performed or supervised by an MD, they do not currently cover treatments with a licensed acupuncturist. If you are on Medicare, secondary insurance may cover acupuncture. If you are a veteran, the VA may cover the cost of acupuncture treatments. I do not accept No Fault or Workers Compensation.

Also know that acupuncture is a covered service under a flexible spending account (FSA) and that you are likely to be able to pay for acupuncture out of a health savings account (HSA).

If you are interested in using insurance for your acupuncture treatments, please call the clinic with the following information or request a questionnaire by email so I can verify benefits:


  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Insurance carrier
  • Subscriber/member ID
  • Provider services phone number (usually on the back of the card)
  • Condition/s for which you are seeking treatment


Keep in mind that deductibles, co-insurance or co-payments may apply to your acupuncture coverage. Also note that your plan may only cover treatment for certain conditions or with certain types of providers, i.e. some plans are M.D. only. I am a “licensed acupuncturist”. There may also be a limit on the number of visits. It is ultimately your responsibility to understand your acupuncture benefits and to be aware that benefit details given over the phone are not a guarantee of coverage. You are responsible for all charges not covered by insurance. All that said, I do my best to work with insurance and my experiences working with insurance companies so far have generally been positive.

Does acupuncture hurt?
Acupuncture is generally painless although you are likely to feel some sensation with the needles known in Chinese as “de qi”, or “the arrival of qi”. Some people describe feeling heaviness, distention, tingling, or warmth at the insertion site, or even a traveling sensation along the acupuncture channel, but this phenomenon is temporary and lets you know the needles are having an effect. If a needle doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, let me know! I will adjust it.
What is Chinese medicine?
Sichuan Peppercorn Chicken

Sichuan Peppercorn Chicken

Chinese medicine generally includes five major branches: acupuncture, herbal medicine, tui na (Chinese acupressure), qi gong (energy cultivation) and dietary therapy. Any or all of these modalities might be utilized in treatment.

What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of thin needles into points found along particular body pathways known as “channels” or “meridians”. There are 14 acupuncture channels and eight “extraordinary vessels” that run through the body, and while these channels might be found near blood vessels, nerves or elements of the lymphatic system, they are distinct from those other pathways.
Can acupuncture needles spread disease?
No, I use only single use, sterile, disposable needles which are discarded in a sharps container after each treatment.
What can I expect during my treatment?
Many people feel relaxed during the treatment and may even fall asleep. It is best to wear loose-fitting clothing in preparation for a treatment so that you are comfortable and the acupuncture points are easily accessed.
What is expected of me after my treatment?
Although you can expect to be able to resume normal activity following a treatment, it is best to avoid strenuous activity, or anything that might exacerbate the condition we are treating. After treatment with acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping or gua sha, the acupuncture points of the body are open, and it is important not to let exterior pathogens like wind, cold or damp in. For this reason, avoid taking a shower directly after treatment, and also avoid wind and cold drafts.
How many treatments are needed?
This varies and must be discussed with your practitioner. It could take anywhere from a single visit to several sessions to resolve a complaint and depends on the circumstances. Some people feel an improvement in their main complaint immediately following a treatment, but it is possible to experience a delay in the positive effects, often up to a few hours or a day or two. And an even smaller percentage might feel worse before they feel better, but this is rare. The positive effects of acupuncture can also be cumulative – where the initial treatment might provide a few hours or days of relief, subsequent treatments often provide longer lasting results.
Do I have to choose between acupuncture and other types of healthcare?
No, many people use Chinese medicine in conjunction with Western medical treatment as well as other modalities, and I welcome a collaborative relationship with your other health care providers.
What are Chinese herbs like?
Chinese herbs can be plant, animal or mineral substances although I rarely use animal substances in my formulas. The strongest form, and the form I use most commonly, is raw herbs boiled into a tea although Chinese formulas can be delivered as granules, pills, or tinctures, or applied externally as liniments or poultices. Chinese formulas probably do not taste like anything you have had before, and are generally on the bitter side. Don’t let this dissuade you from taking them – they can be amazingly effective.
How are Chinese herbs different from Western herbs?
Plate of Chinese herbs

Chinese herbs

The biggest difference between Chinese and Western herbs is that Chinese herbs are generally given as a formula made up of several different herbs. These different herbs work together to achieve a desired affect and are also designed to reduce or eliminate side effects.

Where do my Chinese herbs come from?
Spring Wind herbs

Spring Wind Herbs

I only use products from companies that are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified, so you can be assured that they are safe and of the highest quality. Most herbs and herbal products are presently imported from China or Taiwan although it is becoming increasingly common to grow herbs domestically and manufacture products here in the United States. Most of my raw herbs come from Spring Wind in Berkeley and I also commonly use capsulized extracts from Classical Pearls in Oregon – these two companies have some of the highest quality and most stringently tested Chinese herbs in the business. I am also on the board of our own High Falls Gardens in Philmont, dedicated to creating an ecologically cultivated domestic supply of Chinese herbs. I use domestically grown herbs where possible.