Acupuncture has been a community based medicine for most of its long history. In Asia, acupuncture has traditionally been practiced in group rather than individual settings. For acupuncture to be most effective, patients need to receive it frequently and regularly -- far more frequently and regularly than most insurance plans will pay for. As acupuncture has moved toward the mainstream, it has been forced into a paradigm of one-on-one treatments and high prices, which has decreased not only patient access but treatment efficacy.
Community acupuncture clinics represent a return to tradition. Community acupuncturists focus on using “distal” points (below the knee and elbow, and on the head and neck) so that patients can remain fully clothed during treatment. Community acupuncture clinics often use recliners rather than treatment tables. Many patients prefer a community setting because they find it more relaxing; or, as one patient put it,
"I’m not sure why I ever spent $100 to put on a hospital gown and lie in a cold little cubicle. Acupuncture is acupuncture, and it works wherever you do it. I like having other people around; you can feel the healing energy in the room."
No. Public health clinics rely on some combination of grants, government subsidies, and/or donations. Community acupuncture clinics rely on fees charged to the patients: a classic private sector practice. In addition public health clinics are strictly non-profit entities. Community acupuncture clinics can be either non-profit or for profit companies. In practice, the vast majority are for profit.