Working Class Acupuncture Makes Treatment Affordable for All

If you’re interested in getting acupuncture treatments but can’t afford the out-of-pocket cost, we’ve got great news for you: Working Class Acupuncture (WCA) in Portland offers acupuncture treatments on a sliding scale, ranging from $20 and $40 per treatment, and you decide how much you can afford to pay. Hard to believe, right?

“Working Class Acupuncture’s mission is to remove barriers to getting needed treatment,” says Sonya Gregg, clinic manager at the nonprofit organization’s Cully location in northeast Portland. Other locations are in the Hillsdale and Rockwood neighborhoods of Portland.

“Our business model is to provide a high volume of treatments at a low cost, and our nominal fees actually cover about 90% of our expenses,” explains Gregg. “We treat everyone from little kids to great grandparents, providing the best care with as few barriers as possible.”

a person with a mask sits in a comfy chair with someone sitting next to them also in a mask and a hand resting on the comfy chair
Acupuncturists discuss treatment goals with patients and answer questions before inserting pins. Photo credit: Elizabeth Ribeiro

There’s No Need to Undress at Working Class Acupuncture

For some people, being ushered into a private room and asked to remove their clothes is scary, and Working Class Acupuncture has removed that barrier to care. “Our treatment rooms are open spaces filled with comfy recliners, and a number of patients get treatments at the same time,” says Gregg.

“Patients just need to wear loose, comfortable clothes that can be rolled up above their elbows and knees, and all they have to remove are their shoes and socks,” she says. “We can treat just about any condition by placing pins on acupuncture points below the elbows and knees, and from the neck up.”

Worried about catching a cold, the flu, or COVID in a communal setting? Recliners are at least three feet apart, in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirements, and the clinics use medical-grade air purifiers. Masks are not required, although the acupuncturists do wear them, and some patients do too. 

Student Acupuncturists Offer Even More Affordable Treatments

Working Class Acupuncture was founded in 2002 by Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter. As the organization expanded in the following years, they found it increasingly difficult to hire acupuncturists that fit their vision of providing affordable and accessible treatment.

So Rohleder and Van Meter established the nonprofit People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA) in 2011 to bring community acupuncturists together, and POCA Tech to train like-minded acupuncturists. Training involves more than 2,000 hours of classes and clinical experience, and graduates receive a master’s level Certificate of Acupuncture.

a POCA Tech student works on a patient with a certified Acupuncturist watching.
POCA Tech students who treat patients at Working Class Acupuncture are closely supervised by highly trained and licensed acupuncturists. Photo credit: Elizabeth Ribeiro

“Working Class Acupuncture’s Hillsdale and Rockwood locations offer appointment times when patients can receive treatment from POCA Tech students who are closely supervised by licensed and highly trained acupuncturists,” says Gregg.

Sliding-scale fees for these treatments are from $10 to $20, and WCA also offers month-long student clinics where treatments are free and patients can come in as often as they want. “It’s a win-win – patients get free treatments and students get lots of experience,” she says.

Small Businesses Offer Working Class Acupuncture Treatments as an Employee Benefit

As a small business, Working Class Acupuncture is committed to supporting other small businesses, especially those that can’t afford comprehensive health insurance for their employees. “We offer packages of treatment credits that they can purchase and make available to their employees,” says Gregg. “It’s like a purse full of money that employees can tap into.”

Packages of treatment visits are also available to individual patients four times a year, usually in January, April, July, and October. “We had someone come in recently who had purchased a package back in 2011 and thought she still might have a paid treatment she could use. We looked it up and, sure enough, she did.”

WCA also partners with CODA, the nonprofit organization that provides substance use treatment, and CareOregon. “We have an acupuncture clinic in one of CODA’s facilities, and we provide treatments to certain CareOregon patients,” says Gregg.

Sonya Gregg, clinic manager at Working Class Acupuncture’s Cully location, inserts pins in a patient. The pins are tiny — about the size of a cat’s whisker, she says. Photo credit: Elizabeth Ribeiro

Acupuncture Can Treat Almost Any Health Problem

Acupuncture is well accepted by the medical community as an effective way to treat countless conditions, and physicians often refer patients to WCA when they determine acupuncture may be helpful, or when health insurance provides inadequate coverage to meet an individual’s health needs.

“Treatments can greatly improve patients’ quality of life by safely decreasing pain and inflammation, boosting immunity, improving digestion, lifting depression, regulating hormones, dispelling migraines, minimizing recovery time from surgery, and relieving a multitude of other health challenges,” she continues.

Acupuncture is especially helpful for people with chronic diseases who need to take many medications that have multiple side effects, adds Gregg. “Acupuncture provides significant health benefits without creating any additional side effects.”

Compassion, Quality Care, and Commitment Abound at Working Class Acupuncture

If you believe low-cost fees are synonymous with low-quality care, guess again, says Gregg. “All our acupuncturists are highly skilled, care deeply about their patients, and feel honored to be here, providing barrier-free treatment to people who might otherwise miss out on care. Acupuncture can treat so many health issues, and we encourage everyone to give it a try.”

Check out Working Class Acupuncture’s website to learn more about the organization’s approach and services, or to schedule an appointment. They are open seven days a week.

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