Will Obamacare Support Alternative Holistic Practices?


Published:

It’s going to be very interesting to see what effect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has on alternative medicine practices. The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) including services like acupuncture, chiropractic, nurse midwives, massage and herbal medicine has been steadily on the rise for decades in the US. The National Institute of Health estimates that over 38% of all Americans are currently using some form of alternative health treatments.

In the past, insurance companies have not traditionally covered these therapies, as they do not fall into the “conventional” medicine practices of surgery and treatment with pharmaceuticals.  With the exception of chiropractors, most CAM practitioners have never been recognized or included as providers in any healthcare plans.

Obamacare May Provide Reimbursement for Holistic Treatments

That may change in 2014 with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act….or so CAM practitioners are hoping.

When the current ACA legislation was first introduced there was an enthusiastic “yippee!” from the CAM crowd.  Because buried amongst the jargon of the 906-page ACA document is “Section 2706” which states:

"A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall not discriminate with respect to participation under the plan or coverage against any health care provider who is acting within the scope of that provider's license or certification under applicable state law."

CAM practitioners took these words to mean that insurance companies are not permitted to make a distinction between MDs and NDs (naturopathic doctors) or other holistic service providers when it comes to plan participation, and they would be on the same reimbursement levels as MDs…a virtual victory for those who want choice when it comes to their healthcare provider. It would seem that as long as their health care practitioner is licensed in the state where they receive treatment, they are covered. 

States Will Decide What Is Reimbursible

But 2706 is open for interpretation.  The last four words say it all: under applicable state law. States can make their own rules when it comes to which providers to include, and they can also determine at what level they will reimburse and how many visits will be covered for a specific illness. This provision does not require plans or issuers to accept all types of providers into a network.

Deborah Senn, JD (former insurance commissioner for Washington State) speaking for the CAM community stated: "We are concerned that issuing guidance that is not crystal clear and may contradict the law simply invites insurers and state regulators to interpret 2706 in a way that undermines the clear intent of the law."

This is clearly a state-by-state issue.  (On a federal level, as with Medicare, Medicaid, and military plans, there are currently no provisions for CAM in the new healthcare act.)

AMA Opposition To CAM Treatments

The reaction to alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture, healing touch, the use of herbs, and qi gong being included in the ACA is varied depending on whom you ask, but those opposed to such therapies as part of the government health plan are pretty vocal.  There are different reasons, I’m sure, but a lot of the opposition has to do with money.  In 2010, the AMA (American Medical Association) launched a huge campaign to have section 2706 repealed… and with good reason. Americans spend over $34 billion on CAM treatments yearly.

Doctors argue that there aren’t proper regulations in place for CAM practitioners and they are concerned about patient’s safety. But there’s probably also some ego involved.

As a nurse, I’ve seen tempers flare when patients tell their doctors that they are going to try meditation and yoga before they increase their drugs for their worsening high blood pressure. A recent survey shows that over 68% of those who use complementary therapies don’t tell their MD that they are seeing someone else “on the side.”

Is it the fact that most alternative medicine practices focus on helping the individual harness their own healing power thereby reducing the number of visits to their healthcare practitioner? It could be. It would seem to me that physicians would encourage anything the patient wanted to do to improve their overall wellness, especially if it poses little health risk, but that’s not usually the case. 

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Government Initiative

Doctors, not unlike others that dismiss anything other than western medicine as quackery, are not immune to denouncing what they don’t understand. Those opposed to 5,000-year-old alternative medicine practices cite the lack of needed research-based evidence. In March 2010 a US Treasury trust in the amount of $200 million was allocated to a newly formed government non-profit called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) formed to gather studies related to alternative medicine. If you think $200 million is a lot of money, consider that pharmaceutical companies earn in the neighborhood of $62 billion (yes…with a ‘b’) per year in profits.

Unfortunately, there aren’t huge profits to be made when there is proof that meditation reduces the amount of pain medication needed for chronic pain. That’s where the PCORI comes in.

Alternative Medicine Reduces Health Care Costs Overall

But it doesn’t look like alternative therapy medicine is going to disappear, whether the Affordable Care Act supports it or not. When you look at the fact that 38% of those who use CAM currently pay out of pocket, and when you look at the current trends in holistic medicine, it’s safe to say there will be no dip in the steady increase of clients for the future.

Alternative medicine looks at the person as a whole being with all systems and parts affecting all the other systems and parts. As a result, the whole person is often treated as opposed to just one body part.  Western medicine is so specialized that patients often have four or five different doctors to take care of different illnesses on one body. Those with holistic health care providers can often just see one doctor, which can save them multiple co-pays. A holistic doctor or provider is also much more likely to teach patients how to heal themselves as opposed to having the doctor be the only one who can provide the cure or treatment. That may be one reason for the exploding interest in complementary and alternative medicine today.

If the goal of Obamacare is to make Americans healthier by emphasizing self-healing and preventative medicine, then complementary and alternative medicine must be included in the health plans for those who want a choice.  It remains to be seen, however, if that is what will happen once the plan rolls out.

Susan Gonzalez is a Registered Nurse, cancer survivor, award-winning blogger, owner of MOON Organics, a natural skincare products company, and co-author of the popular new book “100 Perks of Having Cancer plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It” (Basic Health Publications, 2013). She personally discovered the power of the mind/body relationship during her own journey to reach her optimal health after treatment for stage III breast cancer.  Blogging as “The Savvy Sister," she provides readers with simple ways to achieve that goal. 

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

September 23, 2019

During the predawn hours the Sun slips into Libra and Autumn begins. The Fall Equinox is a short-lived time of year when the hours of daylight and darkness are balanced. If you’ve been putting off preparations for the coming winter, set to it. The waning…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2019

It’s time for a workshop!  One plus one always equals two. In a similar fashion EFT plus Law of Attraction always equals effective and positive change. Teaching Emotional Freedom...

Cost: $40

Where:
21 Wiles Farm Road
Northboro, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Medicine My Way
Telephone: 508-523-7132
Website »

More information

In this 90 minute workshop you will find clarity in what brings you joy. You will create your personal vision statement that will help guide you to living a more satisfied, balanced life. This...

Cost: $25 early-bird till 9/20 ($30 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Witness the healing power of mediumship! Join New England's own trusted spirit medium Raylene Sousa and top UK medium Dominic Boag from Scotland for an afternoon of spirit messages. If...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Little Meetinghouse
723 Roosevelt Trail
Windham, ME  04062
View map »


Sponsor: Raylene Sousa Medium LLC
Telephone: 207-956-0220
Contact Name: Raylene Sousa
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Members of the Reflexology Association of NH will be offering “mini” hand or foot reflexology sessions at the Salt Cave within Bien Soigne in honor of World Reflexology Week.

Cost: Donations suggested $15 - $20

Where:
Bien Soigne Salt Cave
350 North Broadway
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: Reflexology Association of NH
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 25–October 29, 2019 Expert Tai Chi instructor and Qigong Master Instructor Terry Dunn will be giving a total of four five-day intensive workshops in October 2019 at Eastover...

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 26–29 This training at the Center for Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) uses mindfulness meditation and cognitive therapy to break the cycle of...

Cost: $1,390

Where:
Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
1035 Cambridge St, Suite 21A
Cambridge, MA  02141
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Contact Name: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Website »

More information

Come detox, relax and renew yourself for the fall in our sanctuary! We have an intimate gathering of great readers and healers providing services at sampler rates to enjoy their services while...

Cost: $60: 3 Pack Service Special; $25: Single Service

Where:
Healing Power Of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Mirabai Starr was an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years. Her emphasis has always been on making connections between the perennial...

Cost: $20

Where:
First Parish in Lexington
7 Harrington Road
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Lexington Community Education
Telephone: 781-862-8043
Contact Name: Craig Hall
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Maryellen Labelle, David Sholemson and Steve Cunningham are excited to announce Qigong for Inner Peace teacher training fall term 2019. This 50 hour certification training is appropriate for a wide...

Cost: $1100 / $800 early registration

Where:
Yoga Depot
17 Depot Square
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Qigong for Inner Peace
Telephone: 617-721-7215
Contact Name: Maryellen Labelle / David Sholemson
Website »

More information

Join life coach Cheryl Richardson and her husband, Michael Gerrish, a psychotherapist and gifted intuitive, for a special evening designed to help you upgrade your life! During this event,...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

This Dating Program is the follow-up to Kerri Morrison's workshop, Deliberate Dating: 5 Keys to Successful Online Romance; held Friday, August 16th, 2019 from 6:30-7:30pm. View that event...

Cost: $199

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn Reiki—revitalizing self-care and healing in the palm of your hands. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher.) This one-day class covers the...

Cost: $150

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

With Laura Haley, IET Master Instructor Trainer  This class provides you with everything you need to conduct a powerful Integrated Energy Therapy session on yourself or others (either in...

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
Methuen, MA


Telephone: (978) 474-8010
Website »

More information

Learn the benefits of yoga for families as well as how to develop character in children to get them more focused, respectful, and confident before returning back to school this fall! This class...

Cost: $45 early bird till 9/25 (includes child and a parent), $50 after

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

September 28–29 Saturday 10 am Registration; 10 am–5 pm  Sunday 10 am–5 pm This practitioner training takes place over 2 days and offers students the opportunity to...

Cost: Course Fee: $450; Recalibration Appointment: $333

Where:
The Hampton Inn Coventry Warwick
850 Centre Of New England Boulevard
Coventry, RI
View map »


Telephone: 617-366-6042
Website »

More information

September 28–29 Learn hands-on techniques for the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, as well as the sacrum, psoas and ilium. Leave with tools you can use right away. Coming in...

Where:
Downeast School of Massage
Waldoboro, ME


Telephone: (617) 678-8920
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags