Sunday, May 17, 2009

Alternative Practitioners and Insurance

When I initially started seeing alternative practitioners for my rheumatoid arthritis, I was hesitant because insurance doesn't cover any of it. The first visit with my naturopath cost me about $300 which included a one hour visit going over every detail of my life and several supplements. After paying for my first visit I went into panic mode thinking, "There is NO WAY we can afford this every month." (Maybe at that point I didn't realize that I was worth every penny of it.) But, luckily my husband and children attended my first visit with me and felt as encouraged as I did that diet and supplements could help my body heal. The good news is that we didn't pay that much every month. With time, the visits became less often,the supplements decreased and we paid less out of pocket each month. Now, if I visit my naturopath, I pay about $75 total which includes a 30-45 minute visit and a renewed faith in myself and my body.

Yesterday we received a bill in the mail for a visit my husband had with an allopathic physican. Each time he sees this physician, the office visit is $100. I asked my husband how long he spends with the physician - about 10-15 minutes! So, basically we pay a $40 specialist co-pay for a 10-15 minute visit or half of what I pay for a one to two hour visit. That is expensive. It also reminded me of my frustration when I was seeing the rheumatologist. I would visit him for about 15 minutes each visit and he billed insurance $210!!!! I paid $40 for the copay every two months.

Today the alternative practitioner I see charges me about $70-$90 a visit. However, my visits last anywhere between one and two hours. I now see this as a cheap visit because he does so much for me in that time. My appointments are always scheduled for thirty minutes but if he feels I need more work, he keeps me there longer and so far hasn't charged me any extra. I like this. I feel like I am getting a lot for my money now. I feel like I am being treated as an individual. Plus, I have made huge progress and I am fulfilling my goal of being med free. The best news for me is that eventually I will probably only need to see him for maintaince check-ups once to twice a year and then continue with a few supplements which means in the long run I will save money because I won't be going in every two months for blood work that verifies the meds aren't destroying my liver, refilling RX's and paying co-pays to a doctor I feel wasn't healing me.

Next week my husband starts a new job and we will be signing up for new insurance and paying our monthly premiums for something that I won't use for myself or the kids unless we have an emergency. I get very frustrated with insurance that they aren't willing to help cover the costs of alternative care because I believe that it in the long run it would save them a ton of money. Through alternative care practitioners we were able to completely eliminate my daughter's allergy meds and we totally cleared up her severe eczema that she has suffered with since she was six weeks old. Now, she just has to watch her gluten/dairy intake. As a family, we have learned to eat healthier which means we are sick less often and I believe in the future, will experience less health problems which again will save the insurance companies money. I believe the work that alternative practitioners do is awesome. I believe they look at us as a whole person that needs to be healed. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but the results usually help more than one area.


  1. How sad Cathy with so many insurance companies paying for alternative practitioners that yours didn't. Perhaps the new insurance company will? Our last insurance paid for my accupuncture and massage and that was a huge help! You are right, the money isn't an issue when our health is at stake! Love the pictures of your bike ride!

  2. What a courageous decision!

    Two years ago I took myself off of methrotrexate, after my rheumatologist refused to listen to my pleas to change my medication. Amazingly enough, as soon as I got off I got much better, and spent the next couple of years working with supplements and dietary changes (as well as more exercise/yoga and finally shedding the extra pounds.)

    I think that we ourselves are the best judges of our bodies, and that getting support from multiple viewpoints and types of healing is not only good, but should be highly respected. (Sadly enough, I've seen to many cases in online forums of people being chased away whenever they want to discuss a healing approach beyond mainstream meds.)

    I just recently started a new pharmaceutical treatment but my focus remains on being as holistic as possible.

    Sending the best and hope to hear more about what's working for you.

    RA Guy

  3. Rannyjean - Our insurance will pay for small amounts of adjustments but zero amount for nutrition or supplements. Luckily, my husband has always supported my journey with alternative care and has been willing to give up some of the "extras" in life so I can do it.

    Debbie - Thanks. I feel worth it!

    RA Guy - I was on Methotrexate also. Every time I mentioned going off it he reminded me it was a drug for life. Life is a long time! When I went off, I didn't feel better. That is what I have been struggling with for the last year and a half. But, I think my body is almost done with its temper tantrum and realizing we aren't going back to the drugs and it is getting along fine.

    RA Guy I kind of had a feeling you had experimented with some alternative things too. :)

    I don't think alternative care is the answer for everyone, but I do wish insurance companies saw it as a choice in our health care. It can work! For me, I feel that I am being true to myself and following a philosophy and healing approach that works for who I am.

  4. I think your story is apropos of the current environment (collective rethinking of the healthcare system). I wonder if you have considered submitting your thoughts as a letter to the editor, or to your congressperson?

    Maybe think of it as a snapshot of your life from the point of view of "health". Because a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope you continue to tell your story, it will help us all.