Massaging Without a Net

massage therapist jobs classes insurance

One of my favorite massage therapists to trade with recently let me in on a secret.

She has been doing massage for more than 20 years without health or disability coverage.

That pressed some buttons with me. Since getting into massage, I have always had coverage, health through my own individual plan, then my spouse’s work policy, and disability through my professional massage association. I wouldn’t think of going “bare.”

My friend explained to me that she wasn’t aware that she could get coverage through her association, and had she been, she might sign up. She carries practice insurance because she is a contractor for a spa that requires it.

Why not look into her options?

Well, she said, she didn’t look into it because no one told her it was available. And even then, it is probably too expensive to pay out of pocket for insurance every month and still pay rent.

So what happens if she breaks her wrist while mountain biking?

Well, she can always move back with her parents for a while.

I know my friend very well, so I held back a bit and counted to 10.

She has a very nice mountain bike, I noted. And a nice, though used, car. Every other year, sometimes every year, she takes continuing education classes Hawaii or Costa Rica. How can she fit those in but not insurance?

My friend and colleague thought about that one for a while. Her time to count to 10.

She told me she works really hard and has to have some reward for her efforts. The physical and mental health benefits of those activities outweigh paying for insurance, something she may never use. Thinking about it stresses her out.

I asked my friend not to resent the questions I was asking. It was just my way of identifying priorities. I do that sometimes with clients who need massage but are too busy for massage. Or with clients who need to stretch but are too busy to stretch.

I ask if they manage to get their hair done, get the car washed, or take a shower every day. Do those “get in the way” of doing other things or are they necessary?

We all have priorities, even I, who would rather go get a massage than organize the taxes box and put it in storage that day. Or fold sheets. Or make out a will. Or a few thousand other things I designate optional, like a mountain bike trail ride.

We made a deal. She is going to look into her insurance options with her association or Obamacare. I’m going with her (wrists and elbows wrapped, or course) on a trail ride.

by Sue Peterson

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