Your Insurance Rates Just Went Up

This article about insurance payments for Reiki appeared on a Reiki website:

A major concern among Reiki practitioners has been the inability to bill client’s insurance companies for treatments. However, today there are avenues available to the practitioner. A nurse who practices Reiki and wishes to bill an insurance company for a treatment may use the diagnostic code 1.8 – Energy Field Disturbance. The diagnostic code may only be used by nurses and is recognized by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association. The bill should be accompanied with a separate sheet setting forth the assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. This information may be found in the Official Newsletter of the American Holistic Nurse’s Association (Vol. 15-No. 4, April 1995)

Energy Field Disturbance is defined as a disruption of the flow of energy surrounding a person’s being which results in disharmony of the body, mind and/or spirit. Defining characteristics of EFD are – temperature change (warmth and coolness), visual change ( image/color), disruption of the field (vacant, hold, spike, bulge, movement (wave, spike, tingling, dense, flowing), and sounds (tones/words)”

It goes on to explain how you can game the system to get payment for these treatments.

Isn’t it interesting that nurses get to use this diagnosis and doctors don’t?   I thought there was only one science. Either “energy field disturbances” exist or they don’t. And there’s not a shred of evidence that they exist outside the imagination of energy practitioners. According to Edzard Ernst, the world’s first professor of alternative medicine, in Trick or Treatment,

“Reiki is a popular form of spiritual healing, but it has no basis in science. The trial evidence fails to show its effectiveness for any condition.”

Despite this lack of evidence, they continue to claim beneficial, sometimes miraculous, health effects for ALL health conditions.

Reiki has had a positive affect [sic] on all forms of illness and negative conditions. This includes minor things like head or stomach aches, bee stings, colds, flu, tension and anxiety as well as serious illness like heart disease, cancer, leukemia, etc.

The website Q and A asks if reiki is a religion and answers no. “Although Reiki energy is spiritual in nature, Reiki is not a religion.” Maybe not, but it does require belief in a lot of pretty weird ideas. According to Bob Park in his book Superstition, if it’s not science, it’s superstition. And Reiki sure isn’t science. Read these definitions of rei and ki and see what you think – does this sound like science, religion, or superstition to you?

Rei can be defined as the Higher Intelligence that guides the creation and functioning of the universe. Rei is a subtle wisdom that permeates everything, both animate and inanimate. This subtle wisdom guides the evolution of all creation ranging from the unfolding of galaxies to the development of life. On a human level, it is available to help us in times of need and to act as a source of guidance in our lives. Because of its infinite nature, it is all knowing. Rei is also called God and has many other names depending on the culture that has named it.

Ki is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. Ki is flowing in everything that is alive including plants, animals and humans. When a person’s Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on it’s challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the air we breath, from food, sunshine, and from sleep. It is also possible to increase our Ki by using breathing exercises and meditation. When a person dies, their Ki leaves the physical body. Ki is also the Chi of China, the prana of India, the Ti or Ki of the Hawaiians, and has also been called odic force, orgone, bioplasma and life force.

You learn to do Reiki by receiving an “attunement” from a Reiki master. And it works long-distance:


By using a picture of the person you would like to send Reiki to or by writing the person’s name on a piece of paper or simply by thinking of the person and also activating the distant symbol, you can send Reiki to them no matter where they are. They could be hundreds of miles away, but it makes no difference. The Reiki energy will go to them and treat them. You can also send Reiki to crisis situations or world leaders and the Reiki energy will help them too.

They even have a World Peace Project

It doesn’t seem to be working very well.

If their claims were true, they could easily have won Randi’s million dollars: why haven’t they even applied? (That’s a rhetorical question: I think we can all guess why.)

This is all so silly it’s hard to believe a hard-nosed insurance company would countenance it. Should insurance companies reward patients for being superstitious? I don’t think so.

This article was originally published in Swift, the online newsletter of the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Dr. Hall is a contributing editor to both Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer. She is a weekly contributor to the Science-Based Medicine Blog and is one of its editors. She has also contributed to Quackwatch and to a number of other respected journals and publications. She is the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon and co-author of the textbook, Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.

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