Alternative health care is on the rise.

By Nathan Barber, QuoteWizard

Alternative health care is steadily on the rise. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, about 38 percent of American adults are using some form of alternative medical treatments.

This includes the main treatments, but not limited to:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage therapy
  • Naturopathy
  • Homeopathy

However, many people are hesitant to engage with this type of alternative treatment because their health insurance plan will not fully cover it, or not cover it at all, forcing the person to pay out of pocket costs or resort to 'modern medicine practices.' This has to change.

In 2012, 59 million Americans spent around $30.2 billion out of pocket costs for alternative medical treatment and products (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)). This accounts for around 11 percent of all health care spending.

This is too much money out of pocket and is a problem that needs to be addressed. Insurance companies recognize that people want and will pay for alternative treatments, yet many agencies are reluctant to cover all types of care, leaving you on your own to pay for it out of your own wallet. This is due to 'lacking scientific empirical evidence' that alternative medicine works, which is not true.

If you don't want to pay out of pocket costs, you do have some options. You may be asking how to find out what types, or if alternative medicine treatments are covered under your health plan. The answer is maybe. Since the induction of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are not supposed to discriminate against licensed professionals.

However, it also states that it doesn’t require insurers to cover the care and can 'limit' coverage for alternative or experimental care, which many agencies do. Most insurance plans will currently only cover 'medically necessary' treatment; a vague definition at best. For some plans you may qualify for being covered for certain treatments, others will not. It just depends on your health plan.

To find out specifically for your situation, read your insurance policy that will outline what alternative medical treatments are covered, or not. If you are still unsure call your health care provider. According to QuoteWizard, asking these questions will get you your answers:

  • Am I covered for alternative medical treatment?
  • Do I need a referral or prescription from my general practitioner?
  • Will I have to meet a deductible or pay a copay?
  • What is my "Out-of-Network" coverage?
  • Do I have coverage for lab testing?
  • Am I limited to a certain number of visits?
  • What are some local providers in my policy network?

If you find out that your current health will not cover the treatment you are looking for, you can try to convince your insurer that you need the treatment as 'medically necessary.' Get your doctor to write you a prescription that details your condition and the recommended alternative care treatment that will help. Your doctor has the power to potentially sway your health insurance company to suit your needs. If you are denied after all of that, you can always switch health insurance plans.

People should never be coerced (in this case, financially) into one form of medical treatment when they prefer another. It is the insurer's duty to oblige with a person's basic human right to allow them to choose what treatment is best for them. However, we are still seeing alternative medical treatments being curtailed by not having the freedom to a specific type of therapy, or, indeed, to no medical therapy at all. Let's hope that insurers continue to explore health options as a sustainable solution in the near future.