In recent years the popularity of non-traditional health care, such as alternative medicine and Eastern medicine, as seen a significant amount of growth. However, many individuals with health insurance are left unsure as to whether or not these therapies are covered under their current health plans. In this article we will explore contemporary and alternative medicine and how it ties in to health insurance coverage.
What is Contemporary and Alternative Medicine?
Contemporary and alternative medicine is the term used to describe health care options that are delivered outside of the regular doctor’s office, hospital or clinic. In recent years, demand has exploded for these different types of care as wait lists grow longer and costs continue to increase. The Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health suggests that contemporary and alternative medicine covers care options delivered through seven different categories: diet/nutrition, alternative medical practice system (such as Chinese medicine), herbal or plant-based medicine, mind-body therapy (like yoga or meditating), manual or touch-based healing (chiropractic, massage therapy), bioelectromagnetic therapies (which use magnetic fields to treat) and pharmacologic care.
Some of the more popular and familiar forms of contemporary and alternative medicine include acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, homeopathic medicine, massage therapy, yoga, tai chi, Eastern herbalism and more. There are a whole host of different types of alternative therapies that are considered a useful part of a full disease management plan; whether or not each one is the right one for you is something for you and your primary care provider to decide.
The Correlation between Medicare Spending and Alternative Medicine Coverage
A number of scientific studies have been performed which suggest that alternative medicine can be just as effective as regular physician-provided care for a variety of diseases and health care issues. Some of the more advanced treatment centers around the nation, like Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins medical centers, now offer patients the ability to select what type of care they would prefer to receive, and have the appropriate medical staff on hand to treat them appropriately.
Recent data indicate that the states which spend the most money on Medicare actually spend the least amount on coverage of alternative therapies and Eastern medicine. It’s an unfortunate reality that traditional medical care can be incredibly expensive, which is why it is critical that you speak with your insurance company regarding alternative medicine to find out whether or not they provide any coverage or reimbursement.
Contemporary and Alternative Medicine Coverage is Provider-Specific
It’s important to remember that coverage for contemporary and alternative therapies or Eastern medicine is going to be specific to your health insurance provider. Insurers are always looking for a way to try to win your business away from their competition, and as non-traditional medicine gets more and more popular insurers are likely to add it to health insurance plans to entice new customers.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not your health insurance company offers coverage for acupuncture, chiropractic medicine or other forms of alternative health care, give them a call. It takes just a few minutes to find out exactly what your health insurance covers and what you will need to pay for with your own cash, and you may find that your insurance provider offers more than you expected.
Co-Pays are Likely if Coverage Exists at All
If you have alternative medicine or Eastern medical care coverage through your health insurance provider, be prepared to have a co-pay attached to it. Although non-traditional therapies are becoming more common throughout the health insurance world, they are still not entirely mainstream and insurers don’t seem too ready to provide 100% coverage for these types of treatments. Although your health insurance provider may not offer you a full reimbursement for contemporary and alternative medicine, having a co-payment is still far better than having to pay the full cost of your medical treatments out of your own pocket.
Affinity Programs can Still Save a Lot of Cash
If your health insurance provider doesn’t offer you any way to claim alternative therapy or Eastern medicine under your insurance plan, it’s worth inquiring as to whether or not they have affinity programs set up with your preferred treatment facilities. Many insurance companies will work out discounts or other benefits with medical facilities to try to save their health insurance clients a bit of cash when purchasing alternative treatments.
If you have already decided that you want to make alternative or Eastern medicine part of your regular health routine you might want to consider making a change to a new provider that will offer at least partial coverage. Paying out of pocket for your own alternative medicine – on top of paying for regular health insurance – can get quite expensive, especially if you are treating an entire family. It never hurts to do a bit of shopping around to see what kind of plans are on the market.
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