Affordable Health Insurance and Alternative Medicine
A growing number of Americans with and without health insurance are seeking alternative or so called complementary medicine for treatment of many disorders. In fact according to the National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1 in 3 Americans currently uses some form of alternative medicine or practice. Scott Dillard, a physician with Columbia University sees this in his own practice and believes it is because there is a vast mixing of cultures currently in America and people are bringing the healing traditions from their own cultures with them. The AMA has recently recognized the value of treatments such as acupuncture, and it is now being taught in several traditional medical schools.
Providers of health insurance too are beginning to take notice. And just as consumers have been demanding access to alternative medicine from their health providers, they are also demanding that there employers or health insurance pay for all or part of alternative treatments - and the companies are listening. A current study by the Kaiser Foundation indicates that 47% of employees with health insurance had coverage for treatments such as acupuncture. Far more close to 80% had health coverage that included chiropractic care. Yoga, other manipulative therapies such as massage therapy, Qi-gong, Reiki and other types of therapeutic touch - are all types of alternative therapies that some health insurance policies will pay for. Many companies themselves recognize the therapeutic value of alternative therapies and while they may not offer coverage for such therapies as part of their medical benefits they offer access to such treatments through discounted "wellness programs". If you have the type of health insurance that qualifies you for a Health Savings Account (HSA) - you can use pre-tax dollars to pay for recognized alternative or complimentary treatments. Sometimes even if your policy provides for CAM (Complimentary or Alternative Medicine) coverage the company may require you provide scientific proof of the efficacy of a given treatment you want them to cover. The website of the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine http://nccam.nih.gov/ provides a database of scientific studies and peer reviewed Journals that may be of help. The site also offers answers to many other questions relating to CAM and Health Insurance.The fact that the healthcare industry in general, and health insurance providers specifically, are starting to take a more serious look at alternative practices is very good news for its advocates. Not only does having insurance cover the treatments help make alternative procedures more affordable, the fact that such practices are covered by health insurance ads a level of legitimacy to the treatments. Removing the stigma and at the same time reducing the costs of alternative treatments may encourage more people to consider such practices. Which is a good thing for all medical consumers according to supporters of integrative medicine like Dr. Dillard. As he states it, "We want to mix the best of the alternative medicine world, with the best things we have from the conventional medical world for the benefit of the patients. There's good evidence that if you combine these things sensibly, you actually get better results and happier, healthier patients." And it seems like insurers are beginning to agree as more and more affordable health insurance policies are providing coverage for both traditional and alternative healthcare.