How I work

When I first looked into natural healing more than 30 years ago, I had no idea that touch therapy was my true calling, not just as a way of making a living, but also as a way being in the world.   I just wanted to study something that would keep my interest long enough to finish a course of study!  After working in the field for a few years, I soon became unsatisfied with doing general relaxation massage, particularly the standardized “fluff ‘n buff” treatments common in spas.  I wasn’t given these gifts to pamper the rich.  Rather, I believe that I am here to relieve suffering in the world however I can.

As it turns out, I’m really talented at easing pain and trauma using my hands.  I soon got a reputation in the hotel I worked at in Santa Fe as the “go-to guy” for guests with specific complaints, and I gained experience treating clients with debilitating injuries.  After being in a serious car wreck, I developed great empathy for people who have experienced trauma, and I began to learn what works for treating traumatic injuries.

Similarly, I have suffered from headaches all my life.  Naturally I learned effective techniques to treat them.  Now I have great success ameliorating even full-blown migraines.  When I had an overuse tendinitis injury, I learned how to treat tendinitis and repetitive use injuries.   The process continues to this day; every time I hurt myself I learn something new!  Of course, being hurt myself is not the only way I learn.  I’ve taken many excellent classes, and I learn something from every client I treat.  Clients often come to me with symptoms I’ve just learned to identify and treat.

I am an intuitive therapist.  My hands know what to do, and after all this time I’ve learned to get my head out of the way.  Of course, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to inform my intuition, along with a wide variety of techniques I’ve accumulated in my journey.  There is no one path to healing; different things work for different people.  I do know a few things, though.  Gentleness and sensitivity to my clients’ needs are fundamental to the healing process.  Locating the precise source of your pain allows me to eliminate it more quickly, with less discomfort during the process.

More trauma does not heal trauma, and you know your body far better than I do.  If the massage hurts too much I am probably working too deeply, too rapidly, or both.  I usually discern subtle cues quickly, but if I don’t respond to your distress, please let me know right away.  I do the work for your benefit, not for my ego.  Together we will find the right blend of technique, pressure, and pace to best suit your needs at any given moment.

Will insurance cover my massage?

::UPDATE:: I’m happy to announce that if you have the APS employee/retiree plan from NM Health Connections, you’re covered, and I’m a provider! No doctor’s referral is necessary; you just pay your regular co-pay and I do the billing.

Short answer: Only in a few circumstances.  In general, medical insurance just won’t pay for massage, although there are exceptions.  It’s worth your while to find out!  Here are the circumstances in which you might not have to pay out of pocket:

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA):  FSAs and similar programs allow participants to set aside untaxed money from income to cover unreimbursed medical expenses. I can take payment from your FSA credit card and provide a receipt with CPT codes.  I haven’t had one turned down yet.
  • Car Insurance Medical Payments (MedPay, PIP): Medpay (PIP in no-fault states) is an optional coverage which pays for medical expenses if you’ve been in a car wreck, up to the agreed upon policy limits, no matter who is at fault.  I strongly advising getting as much of this coverage as you can. It’s cheap!

Health insurance:  Regardless of the hopes massage therapists and clients alike have about getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), neither Obamacare nor the State of New Mexico mandates payments to Licensed Massage Therapists.  As far as I know, no health insurance company operating in NM has LMTs as preferred providers, either.  I would love to be able to accept your medical insurance, but even though I specialize in pain management and injury rehabilitation, health insurance just won’t pay me.  One potential client told me that he needed myofascial release, but that his insurance would only pay for the treatment if I were a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.  A few PTs actually perform hands-on therapy, but for the most part they specialize in stretches and exercises.  Some chiropractors also do soft tissue work, but they primarily adjust joints.  I don’t know any doctors who do manual therapy, although I acknowledge that they might exist. It’s frustrating that health insurance companies won’t pay real experts like me, but they don’t.

The few (very expensive) policies that might actually pay LMTs usually have a separate deductible for “Alternative” health care practices like massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic.  Unless you have extensive injuries or you have already met your deductible, you are probably better off paying me out of pocket at my time-of-service rates.  Some insurance companies claim to cover massage, but they actually contract with LMTs to reduce their time-of-service rates in exchange for being listed in a directory.  The client pays the reduced rate when they receive treatment.  No bill is sent to the insurance company.  Unfortunately, the only massage therapists willing to participate in such schemes are generally not competent to perform medically relevant massage treatments.  Would you trust an inexperienced therapist to work on your frozen shoulder or plantar fasciitis?  I wouldn’t.  I want a well-trained, experienced therapist working on me, especially when I am hurt, not a new therapist who had a couple hundred extra hours of “medical massage” training tacked on to their 650 hour entry-level course.  In my view, it takes years of practice to develop the sensitivity and specific palpation skills needed to confidently assess and treat serious medical needs.  Since I have those skills, I am unwilling to reduce my time-of service rates just to be listed in some directory.

Medicare:  No.  Even Medicare Advantage plans do not cover treatments by Massage Therapists.

Medicaid:  In NM, only those patients in the Mi Via program, which gives patients a budget to pay for their chronic medical needs.  The good news is that I am a Mi Via provider.  The bad news is that I need to charge a little more than my time-of-service rates because I have to wait for payment, which might blow your Mi Via budget.

Car Insurance:  Good news!  If you’ve been in a car wreck (motor vehicle accident, or MVA), you can likely get covered with little or any out-of-pocket expenses.  If you have Medical Payments (MedPay), an optional coverage in NM, your company will pay your medical expenses immediately, regardless of whether you were at fault.  I recommend getting as much MedPay as you can, and at least $5000; it’s cheap! I carry $10,000 of MedPay on my own car insurance policy, and I’d get more if I could.  It costs me $12-13 every 6 months.  I will not accept USAA MedPay because they routinely and arbitrarily refuse to pay my legitimate charges.

If the other driver was at fault, then his/her company will pay me for treatment as part of your settlement.  This might take a few years after the accident, which is a long time to wait for payment.  In order to protect myself, I require that you hire an attorney who will send me a document called a letter of protection, which essentially promises that I’ll be paid inasmuch as the recovery covers the costs of treatment.  You won’t have to pay out of your own funds, and I am assured of some eventual payment.  The days when you could negotiate a fair settlement from insurance companies on your own are long gone.  They lie through your teeth, and you need an experienced advocate to protect your interests.  I know some personal injury attorneys whom I think are humane and honest, and I’d be happy to refer you to one.  However, any attorney who sends me a letter of protection is fine.  You don’t have to hire  someone based on my recommendation.

Personal Injury cases:  You definitely need an attorney for this type of claim, in which liability is not as clear cut as with a car wreck.  I can sometimes take this type of claim after consulting with your attorney.

Workers Compensation:  I can bill Workers Compensation as long as you get pre-approval from the WC insurer.  Generally your doctor’s office needs to arrange this for you.  If you have a federal workers compensation claim (DOL/OWCP), please call me to discuss it.  DOL is a strange beast, and difficult to wrestle payment from.

Contact Us

Please note that this page is primarily designed for potential clients to contact me for more information.  If you are trying to sell me something, no matter how beneficial you think it will be for my practice or my clients, please don’t bother.  I am almost certain to consider it a form of abuse.  

Fellow practitioners and civic organizations should feel free to use this form to contact me.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Southwest Cyberport / SWCP

Alternate Thursdays

Noon to 2 pm

I do chair massage for SWCP employees at the SWCP office on alternate Fridays.  See me on site, or talk to Mark or Jamii to ensure that I see you when you need the work.

Southwest Cyberport is the ISP in Albuquerque that hosts this site. They have a great technical support staff and they are reknowned for excellent customer service.  Local ISPs come and go, but SWCP remains.

Sandia Labs / SERP

HBES building, MO 307

Thursdays from 4-6 pm

$20 for 20 minutes

Call SERP at 844-8486 to schedule appointments and for more information.

I do chair massage in the waiting room at MO 307, the HBEs portable which houses the exercise classes.  I am available every Thursday from 4-6 pm.  Call the SERP office at 884-8486 to make an appointment.

I also have sessions at IPOC on every Wednesdays from 11 am to 1 pm. Of course, you can always come see me at my office!  I honor my SNL gift certificates at both locations.

Chair Massage


I do chair massage regularly at Southwest Cyberport and Sandia National Laboratories (both on base and at IPOC), and I am happy to do so for other businesses and groups.  The most common arrangement for regularly scheduled chair massage is that the client pays me directly, usually $20 for 20 minutes.  However, organizations within the labs and outside companies do contract with me directly to provide chair massage to their employees as a performance bonus or holiday amenity, and the length of the session can be changed to accommodate the group’s  needs.  I do request the at least one hour of chair massage be scheduled to make the travel worth my while.  Depending on the number of people to be massaged and the desired schedule, I can do the work myself or bring more therapists with me.  I also work at sporting events, health fairs, etc.

I am frequently amazed by how much benefit my clients get from a 20 minute chair massage session.  The chair makes working the shoulders and back easy while the client remains clothed in a comfortable sitting position.  Since pain in the back and shoulders is the most common stress-related complaint, I can provide significant relief to stressed-out office workers in a short amount of time in a very convenient location.  I am convinced that chair massage increases worker productivity and lowers Workers’ Compensation costs.  I’d love to have some help proving it!

I do not do chair massage at my office.  My disabled-accessible, electric lift table allows me to do more varied work on all areas of the body.  You may certainly receive  bodywork while clothed, if you prefer, because I have a wide variety of techniques to choose from.  Most are done without using oil or lubricants.

 

Donald F. Schiff, BS, LMT #8

3718 Campus Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(505) 280-4195


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I’ve been practicing Massage Therapy since 1983.  I specialize in clinical pain relief and injury rehabilitation (a.k.a. “medical massage”) for a variety of acute and chronic problems like:

  • acute and chronic pain
  • car wrecks and whiplash
  • migraines and other headaches
  • sports injuries, TMJ disorders
  • frozen shoulder, tendinitis
  • sciatica, plantar fasciitis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.

People come to me because they hurt! I can almost always help regardless of the source, severity, or duration of the pain. I am certified in advanced myofascial techniques [CAMT] by Advanced-Trainings.  I also use a wide variety of other techniques I’ve learned in 30+ years of professional practice.

I can bill car insurance if you’ve been in an accident, and I take letters of protection from attorneys. I am happy to bill Workers’ Compensation with a pre-authorization and specific prescription.

Many of my clients pay me through their Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). I can swipe the card or give you a receipt the benefits manager will accept.

Health insurance ought to pay for massage, but it rarely does.  Some policies will pay for massage, but only if performed by a doctor, chiropractor, or PT. Check your policy.  If it covers treatment by massage therapists, I’ll give you paperwork so that you can be reimbursed. However, I will need to be paid in advance.

As the Government Relations Chair of my professional association, AMTA-NM, I assure you that we are working tirelessly on getting massage covered by health insurance as an “essential benefit” under the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, until we succeed your payment options are limited.

Rates

$80/hr., $120/1½ hrs. in my office
$40 extra at any other location in Albuquerque
$1/minute chair massage, 1 hr. minimum (outcall)

I accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, and debit cards.  You can of course pay me in cash or by check.  I also accept auto insurance for car wrecks, as well as attorneys’ letters of protection.

Call 280-4195 for more information and to make an appointment.

Please note that these rates are only good for massages paid for at or before the time of service. Insurance rates for clinical rehabilitation are based on a different medical fee schedule.  I do have a discounted bulk rate for 5 or 10 massage packages, i.e. (5) 1 hr. sessions for $360 or (10) for $680.  Gift certificates are also available. All sales are final: gift certificate and packages cannot be redeemed for cash.

Map – 3718 Campus Blvd. NE

Call (505) 280-4195 to make an appointment

View Larger Map of Stonecircle Massage
The office is on the first floor of the two-story building  located a block north of Central, right next to Rodeo, the rustic furniture store, on the southwest corner of Campus and Carlisle NE in Nob Hill.  It is directly behind Fan Tang Chinese restaurant located at the corner of Central and Carlisle NE.  The circular driveway in front of our building is reserved for you, our clients.  Please do not block the alley and driveway on either side of the building.