Making Massage Affordable

I believe so strongly that massage can be a beneficial part of almost anyone’s wellness program. I believe equally strongly that establishing and maintaining wellness—in addition to reacting to and treating illness—should be a priority of any healthcare system. Finally, I believe that access to healthcare—including prevention and wellness services, including massage therapy—should be a right, not a privilege

So where does that leave me, a solo-practitioner of massage therapy? In a tough spot. Most insurance will not reimburse for massage at all, and I don’t know any insurance that reimburses for regular wellness massage.

And yet … I need to make a living!

Money: for many of us, this is such a difficult topic to talk about. Supposedly the economy is robust, but many of us are struggling, and even those who aren’t are pinching pennies just to be on the safe side. Regular massage sounds like a nice idea, but for many people (myself included!), paying out of pocket for even monthly massage is a stretch, or out of reach altogether. I currently charge $75 for a 60-minute massage (20% off for your first visit!), which … I know, it seems like a lot, right? At least for me it does. And while most people get wellness massages no more than once a month, I believe that the real benefits of massage—the possibility of massage being a substantial, reliable source of wellness, as opposed to a “treat” that feels nice for an hour—are best realized in weekly sessions.

Yikes! I know…. If I couldn’t do trades with my colleagues for free, I wouldn’t be able to afford regular massage either.

And that just seems wrong.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share here on the blog some possible solutions that might make regular massage affordable for you while still allowing me to make a living. Today, I am asking for your help in developing a sliding fee scale.

But, first, maybe you are wondering why massage is so expensive to begin with. Seventy-five dollars for a 60-minute massage is really on the lower end of the spectrum; you can easily pay well over $100 for an hour-long session. What gives?  

Well, first, it takes a lot longer than 60 minutes to give a professional 60-minute wellness massage. Professional ethics and emerging evidence in the fields of pain management and wellness suggest that any massage session should include plenty of time for thorough consultation, listening, education, and treatment planning. Without any of that, most of the longer-term benefits of massage are lost. In my practice, I will always take as long as needed to fully listen to and understand your story, and to work with you on implementing a treatment plan that fully addresses your health and wellness goals.

But that takes time.

Your wellness takes time, and so does mine. Massage is hard work: it is physically, emotionally, and psychologically demanding. It’s just not a sustainable long-term career strategy to do more than three or four massages a day. At most. Any more and my body would break down, my psyche would revolt, and then where would we be? I’ve been there and it’s not pretty ;-) Believe me, we don’t want that!

So, how do I price my massage treatment so that it is affordable for the widest audience and also allows me to make a modest living? I am currently developing a sliding fee scale that will ask people to reflect on the value of massage in their self-care and wellness plans, their relative wealth (or lack thereof), their actual financial obligations, and what they value when they choose to spend money. Then, in the context of all that, we will try to agree on how much they can reasonably afford to pay for massage on some sort of regular basis. Developing this sliding fee-scale requires thoughtful discernment in the context of real people’s lives, and so it’s kind of hard to do all by myself.

That’s why I could use your help.

Here’s how: I am looking for up to 10 people who will consult with me about my sliding fee scale to determine what price would make a weekly massage for 4 weeks in a row possible in the context of their actual lives, and not based on some arbitrary income chart. Once we mutually agree on a fee, you commit to paying for 4 consecutive weeks of massage at that rate, and then the prize: you will lock in that rate for as many massages as you would like in the next year!

What’s in it for me? Well, until I’m fully booked all the time, every massage I give for a fee is more money earned than if I don’t give a massage at all! And hopefully you will be a satisfied client, you will return, you will tell your friends, and it’s win win win, all around. ;-)

If you would like to know more, shoot me an email at I will take the first ten people who agree to participate!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Marta RoseComment