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What kinds of alternative medicine health insurance benefits are available?  

woman looking for alternative medicine health insuranceThe types of available alternative medicine health insurance benefits that are available depend largely on the insurance company that is providing the coverage. Alternative medicine is a growing field in the health care industry. It typically consists of treatments such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic services
  • Naturopathic medicine

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While these treatments are considered alternative, they can also be considered supplementary in helping you treat a medical condition. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, more than 60% of Americans now use some form of alternative medicine.

Do all health insurance companies cover alternative medicine treatment?

The answer to this depends on several factors, including the type of treatment and the insurance carrier. Most insurance companies will cover chiropractic services for a back injury, provided there is a written prescription from a physician.

Other insurance companies will only cover a portion of alternative medicine treatments. For example, 50% of acupuncture treatments will be covered and it is your responsibility to pay the remaining 50%.

Massage therapy is usually not considered physically and medically necessary, and is very rarely covered by insurance. In fact, in most cases, you will be prescribed physical therapy instead of any type of massage therapy.

Another popular treatment today is naturopathy, which must be administered by a licensed physician. This is a natural way to help treat and maintain the body, and more and more insurance companies are beginning to cover the service.

Why has there been such a growth in alternative medicine over the last 10 years?

One of the main reasons that there has been such a growth in alternative medicine is simply because it has become more accessible. Even hospitals are beginning to offer more alternative medicine treatments.

In fact, according to an American Hospital Association survey, the percentage of hospitals that are now offering some type of alternative treatment has increased by nearly 15% to 42%.

Another reason that alternative medicine has increased in popularity with insurance companies is to meet the demands of today’s workforce. Because more people are using alternative therapies, businesses are looking to increase the amount of alternative treatments that are available to their employees.

In turn, to meet those ever-growing demands, insurance companies are creating specific complementary and alternative medicine treatment and insurance plans. The combination of all these changes has helped the industry grow to where it is today.

Does alternative medicine treat certain conditions and diseases?

Alternative and complementary medicine can be used for any number of:

  • Treatments
  • Illnesses
  • Ailments
  • Diseases

There has been a recent boom in the number of cancer treatment centers that offer alternative medicine, rather than the traditional chemotherapy. Cancer patients are looking for other ways to battle the disease instead of using a treatment that weakens the body and causes hair loss.

Alternative treatments have given cancer patients hope, although there are no documented results that alternative therapies actually help cancer patients.

In fact, specific cancer treatment centers are now located all over the country that provide only complementary and alternative medicine treatment to patients. Known as the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, they have locations in:

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Goodyear, Arizona
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Zion, Illinois
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Atlanta, Georgia (opening in 2012)

Patients who come to one of the centers get a different kind of comprehensive cancer treatment that focuses on the mind, body and spirit, and not just the disease.

If my insurance company does not cover alternative treatments, can I still receive care?

In this situation, it is best to speak to your physician or to the medical office that offers alternative treatments. Express your interest and desire to receive complementary and alternative medicine care, even if there is no health insurance coverage. Many times, you can receive a discount or different price even though the therapy is not covered.

Some treatments are only available as an add-on treatment, rather than the main course of action for an illness or disease. Massage therapy, for example, can be purchased as part of a relaxing package, rather than a necessary treatment therapy.

How much does alternative medicine treatment cost?

This answer depends largely on the type of treatment and the location of the therapy. Some places can charge up to $100 per person for massage therapy, while others will offer a package with many different therapies rolled into one.

It is best to call ahead to determine any costs as well as if any services are covered by insurance.

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