Freedom of choice in health care has been a highly visible issue during the past few years. All the way across this huge country in Washington DC. the federal government is valiantly attempting to “re-engineer” the medical behemoth. meanwhile, we need to do it for ourselves as individuals right now. We can’t wait for “them” to figure out how it’s really going to happen; how costs will be contained; how to begin winning the war on cancer and other chronic diseases; how to protect the neediest.
Almost all of you have availed yourselves, at some time, probably recently, of the help of an “alternative” health care provider. According to a now infamous article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 73% of all health care visits were made to non-MD’s in 1993, but only 13% of these patients reported to their “regular” doctor that they were also seeking complementary care. Over 10 years ago, a Yale University study (“Medical Costs, Moral Choices”) clearly points out one of the problems: “As long as providers make their incomes and fame largely by delivering rescue medicine, they will have less economic interest in prevention.”
This is clearly unacceptable, and we have the power to change it.
Health care in America will continue to be mandated by insurance companies at a State level. And the smart insurers will listen to what their constituents, the general public, want and need and begin to offer coverage for licensed providers who offer preventive, effective and safe approaches to treatment. To ensure insurers do implement freedom of choice in health care, the smart complementary providers will begin immediately formulating policies and proposals to incorporate themselves into the State system. And you, the smart members of the public, will adamantly demand, by letters and phone calls, that your insurers cover services you use for yourself and your family.
One piece of advice I heard several years ago at a medical conference made a big impression. That was, one way to “finesse” the system is to find an insurance company offering a high deductible and a low premium. Why pay $400 a month for full coverage when you can’t get your tune-ups or your annual check up or even routine lab work for preventive care? Why not pay $75 with a $5000 deductible (for example) and spend the savings on acupuncture, massage, your health club fees, an extra family vacation, yoga classes, rolfing, regular naturopathic wellness checks and nutritional counseling? In two years you could bank the deductible and still have $1900 left over for discretionary spending or savings.
Another option for the extra cash would be to have some more FUN.
Fun relives stress which means you’ll be more inclined to take a look at the commitment needed to quit smoking or reach/maintain your ideal body weight. Most everybody knows diets don’t work. You need to get out there and exercise; and eat moderate amounts of low fat, high complex carbohydrate foods. Exercise takes time, and a rested physique. Extra time in this world can only come if we can squeeze out some savings.
Take a hard look at how much YOU spend on health care insurance, and non-reimbursable health-related services. It’s up to all of us, by collective individual effort, to change the current picture.