Insurance for healthcare costs is a relatively new concept in human society. Before the 1920s, healthcare costs were relatively low. A family could expect no more than 7% of their household income to cover the cost of medical care. Mostly this was due to the fact that medical technology was quite basic – maybe a couple rounds of penicillin or fixing a broken bone…
Now we expect our health insurance to cover – at the very least – emergency care in the event of a serious illness or injury. Most insurance also covers annual, routine exams. Insurance as a concept is a “shared risk” estimate. Some people are going to use a lot of it; some use a little; and a few don’t use it at all.
But should health insurance cover the cost of chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and natural remedies? The view that most insurance companies have is that, no, these services are considered “experimental” and unscientific, and therefore are not usually covered by insurance.
For those of us with more knowledge and experience using natural medicine successfully to treat a wide variety of our health complaints, we know that it does work and that using natural medicine – along with healthy diet, stress management, and exercise – greatly reduce your need to take pharmaceutical drugs, see other medical specialists and get expensive testing done, and go to the emergency room or surgeon’s table. Of course, there are always emergency conditions that do require medication, hospitalization or surgery, but those are (or should be) more the exception than the rule.
The problem, then to my eyes anyway, lies in the fact that MOST people over-use allopathic medicine. For example, rather than taking steps to find a healthier way of eating to reduce inflammation or finding out what may be causing the pain in the first place, it is easier – not to mentioned covered by your HMO – to get a drug that numbs the pain away. We are anxious to know what our doctors can tell us about our health, and often I think that they don’t tell us much at all! “Your blood work came out normal!” “…but I don’t feel good.” “I don’t know; here, take this pill.” “What is it?” “Prozac. You must be depressed.” (I just made up that scenario.)
That’s when things spiral out of control, including the medical costs. Lack of care about diet, exercise, and stress + medication side-effects = more health problems. These problems will need more doctors’ visits, more medications, and more testing and more surgery.
As far as the concept of “insurance” is concerned, I am all for it…if I am risk-sharing with a group of people who prioritize their health and wellness care – not sickness care. In other words, if a group of 10 people who eat healthy (at least 80% of the time), exercise regularly, and use natural medicine like acupuncture as a first-choice not as a last resort, then I would be willing to pool the risk with them.
In America now, in a health-crisis of overweight, over-medicated, stressed out people…no thank you. I will take my chances as non-insured. I know I run the risk of accidentally cutting my finger off in my coffee bean grinder just as much as the next person, but I doubt it will happen. If it does, then I guess I will have to pay out of pocket to get it sewn back on. Until then…no premiums, deductibles or co-pays! Only the cost of my organic food, herbal medicine, monthly massages, and an occasional chiropractic visit (about $35 every 2 months).