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Alternative Health Care: 5 Health Care Changes We’d Like to See

Published on , Last Updated on June 7, 2013

woman recieving acupuncture

Health care has changed a lot in the last five years… and, hopefully, it will continue to evolve to provide the best care for the greatest number of people. However, far too many natural health or alternative health practices aren’t covered by the typical insurance plan or Medicare/Medicaid.

Here are five alternative health care treatments we’d like to see covered.

1. Herbal remedies

Typically, insurance plans don’t include herbal remedies. However, there are many people who find that while pharmaceuticals or other “traditional” medicines don’t work for their particular condition, herbal remedies do. Why is it that health care plans will cover expensive drugs pushed out by the pharmaceutical industry, but won’t cover their herbal counterparts, which are safer and often far cheaper?

2. Massage

While some health care plans are beginning to include therapeutic massage, many are still lagging behind and resisting. But the research shows that the people want massage to be covered!

According to the American Massage Therapy Association’s 2010 Consumer Survey, 58% of Americans want their health care insurance plan to cover massages. In a 2002 survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it was discovered that 60% of Americans believe that massage, when combined with traditional medicine, helped to treat their condition(s). Another 33% of the group surveyed said that a conventional medicine professional recommended massage as part of their recovery. If traditional doctors are recommending it, wouldn’t you think insurance should cover it?

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has become increasingly popular over the past decade, and its benefits have been proven. The World Health Organization’s 2002 Review of Randomized Controlled Acupuncture Trials, after extensive research and studies, showed that acupuncture is undoubtedly effective for 28 diseases and has been shown effective for 63 diseases [1]. And people are open-minded to trying it.

In a 2004 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was shown that more people tried acupuncture than any other alternative health treatment. What was the reason for this? They said they tried it because their traditional doctor recommended it. So why aren’t insurance companies covering it?

4. Chiropractic Services

This is another alternative health treatment that is becoming more accepted as far as health care plans are involved. However, there are still many insurance companies that don’t cover chiropractic services, and the question is-why not? Chiropractors address a variety of conditions including back pain, neck pain, sports injuries, arthritis, and more.

According to Chiropractic Health & Education, 96% of patients who seek out chiropractic care described the treatment as helpful. Not only are chiropractic services beneficial, but they’re also sought out by many. According to the American Chiropractic Association, approximately 20 million Americans use chiropractic services annually. That’s astounding!

5. Homeopathy

Homeopathic medicine is one of those alternative medicines that not many people know much about. It deals with the practice that “like cures like.” And it’s more effective than it may seem at first. Historical data shows that those treated with homeopathic medicine during the typhus and cholera epidemics in the late 19th century and early 20th century had a 50% greater chance of surviving than those who were treated with traditional medicine. This is just one of many outbreaks that were helped by homeopathic medicine.

Homeopathy isn’t just a thing of the past, either-it’s used by many today to treat various conditions and illnesses. And to us, it’s just the fifth of our list of alternative health care treatments that should be covered by insurance plans.

What Can We Do Now?

It’s important to note that according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, approximately 38% of adults in the U.S. used some form of alternative medicine in 2008. And that number is growing — so isn’t it time for our health care providers to start listening to our demands?

Try writing and calling your congressman. Voice your concerns, it’s the only way to get the change you desire.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM


  1. World Health Organization. Acupuncture: review and analysis of controlled clinical trials (PDF). (unpublished document A44/10). 1991.

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