Find out more about our services here. If you are unable to find the answer to your question please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Do you require a referral to see Dr. Zhao?
Since it is now required by many insurance companies, we ask all patients to obtain referrals from their primary care doctors before seeking treatment at our clinic. Please contact our office if you have any questions about this requirement.
What insurance plans do you accept?
A number of plans from major insurance companies are accepted at our neurology clinic, including Aetna, Cigna, First Choice, Kaiser Permanente, Medicare, Premera, Regence, and United Healthcare. However, an insurance carrier may have many plans that may change from time to time. It is always prudent for the patient to contact his/her insurance to check whether we are in its network and get up-to-date benefit coverage information.
Acupuncture is only offered as a self–pay service. Patients need to work with their insurance carriers for possible reimbursement.
What payment methods do you accept?
Various payment options are available for copay, deductible, coinsurance, self–insurance, etc:
- Visa/Mastercard/Discover/American Express
- Apple Pay
- Personal check
- Money Order
- Cashier’s Check
What to expect at an initial appointment?
Patient needs to bring to office the insurance cards and a government issued identification such as the driver’s license. In addition, the patient should arrive to the office 10-15 minutes earlier before the time scheduled to talk to the doctor and complete some paper work. Many insurance carriers also require the patient to make a copay for the visit. Thus, the patient may need to take the wallet.
Although governments have officially ended the mandate for facial masking, many healthcare organizations continue to require staff and visitors to wear masks inside their buildings because the risk of COVID-19 is still very much alive. We also have this requirement in our office.
During the check-in process, the patient will be asked to read and sign two documents, one related to privacy protection while the other about patient’s financial responsibilities and giving us permission to work with the insurance. Patient may also need to fill out a health survey and provide us additional information, such as emergency contacts, the insurance subscriber’s demographic, employment status, etc. The office will collect copay at this time. For self-pay patients, we will also collect a deposit.
When the doctor finishes with the previous person, the patient will be roomed in. The provider and patient will talk privately about the health issues and solution. After the visit, the patient may work with the staff on follow-up visits, medical procedures, referrals, the remaining payment for self-pay, etc. He or she may also ask for printed or emailed copies of the payment receipts, the documents they signed during the check-in, and the summary for today’s visit.
What is neurology?
Neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with the evaluation and treatment of all types of disease or impaired function of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles and autonomic nervous system, as well as the blood vessels that relate to these structures.
Neurology is a specialty and is further categorized to general neurology and subspecialties such as neurophysiology for neurological testing, pediatric neurology for working with children, etc.
To become a board certified subspecialist, a general neurologist needs to go through fellowship training of one year or more, in addition to completing the regular neurology residency program.
What does the patient need to do before an EMG test?
If a patient wears a cardiac device such as the pacemaker, the provider needs to be notified and the clearance from the patient’s cardiac doctor is required to proceed with the EMG.
Before coming to the clinic for an EMG test, patients need to do the following things:
- Do not put oil or location in the body areas to be tested
- Wear loose clothes so that the doctor can easily access the body parts to be tested
- Keep the body parts to be tested warm
What is acupuncture?
The term “acupuncture” refers to a family of procedures in which specific points on the body, known as acupoints, are stimulated using a variety of techniques. The one most common approach involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metal needles that are manipulated by hand and/or electrical stimulation. These needles are very small, about the thickness of a human hair or a cat’s whisker. There may be a little trauma to the tissue at the insertion area, but it is very limited. If done correctly, acupuncture would give the patient a localized sensation of numbness, distension, soreness, and electrical tingling (if electrical stimulation is applied), while the acupuncturist should experience “needle grasp,” a tugging feeling.
What is the acceptance level of acupuncture in the US?
Practiced in China and other Asian countries for several thousand years, acupuncture is among the few ancient medical therapies to survive the process of selection and elimination. It was first introduced to the West in the sixteenth Century by the Portuguese. Acupuncture had a significant exposure in the US in the early 1970s, when the New York Times published a report on a personal experience with the procedure from one of its own reporters. The therapeutic modality has been gaining popularity in the country since then. Today millions of Americans seek acupuncture treatment each year. It has been embraced by reputable institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization. A number of insurances start to provide at least some level of coverage.
Despite its growing popularity, acupuncture is still considered a complementary or alternative medicine in much of the United States. Active research is ongoing to study the basis and therapeutic effectiveness of the procedure. There was an interesting paper published in The Seattle Times on the subject.
Is acupuncture safe?
Acupuncture is generally considered safe, if it is performed by a professional practitioner. The procedure may lead to soreness and minor bleeding or bruising at the needle insertion area. If the common practice standard is closely followed, for instance, using only single-use and disposable needles, the risk of infection is minimal.
What is the frequency and how long should I be treated with acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a cumulative therapeutic modality, i.e., the effect of each treatment builds on the previous ones. Thus, we recommend that patients sign up for multiple sessions, have more frequent treatment initially, and gradually taper off. This is the most efficient way to experience the efficacy of acupuncture.
One treatment cycle includes 10 sessions. We encourage patients to complete at least one cycle and then evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and decide what to do next. For patients with severe and/or chronic conditions, it might take several cycles to see the benefits of acupuncture and could require subsequent maintenance treatment at a less frequent interval to ensure the long lasting effect.
I’m still skeptical about acupuncture – why should I consider it?
A number of challenges to conventional medicine may arise under certain circumstances or within some patient populations, such as serious side-effects caused by chemicals, anxiety for massive drug and/or surgical intervention, and lack of any treatment. In Neurology, a branch of conventional medicine dealing with disorders of the less tangible nervous system, these challenges might be of higher degree.
In contrast, acupuncture has much less undesirable side effects, involves no harmful chemicals, and is minimally invasive. This healing modality is generally considered safe, has been in existence for thousands of years, and is widely used in many countries.
Much of the controversy and skepticism about acupuncture has focused on the difficulty to incorporate the procedure into the conceptual framework of modern conventional medicine. We acknowledge that more work needs to be done on the theoretical foundation of acupuncture, but to reject outright a treatment option that has been time-tested and gained broad acceptance might be analogous to throwing the baby with the bathwater.