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Alternative Medicine and Health Insurance

September 18, 2007

What is Alternative Medicine?

Alternative Medicine is a term used to describe medical treatment that is not considered standard or conventional health care. That being said, standard care is the type of medical care that doctor with M.D. or D.O. titles, registered nurses, and other professionals associated with these people (physical therapists, psychologists, etc.) practice. There are a number of other medical professionals, such as chiropractors and acupuncturists, who work in what is known as the field of alternative medicine.

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Some examples of alternative medicine practices are: chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, and massage.

There are four main types of complementary and alternative medicines. They are listed as follows:

  • Whole Medical Systems
  • Mind-Body Medicine
  • Biologically based practices
  • Manipulative and Body Based Practices

Complementary medical treatment is a term closely related to alternative medicine, but it does have a slightly different meaning. Complementary medicine refers to alternative medicine practices that are used as a supplement, or in conjunction with, standard medical practices. An example of a Complementary medicine practice could be an M.D. recommending that his patient get massages to help ease muscle pain. An example of alternative medicine practice is a patient who chooses to adhere to a special diet rather than undergo chemotherapy treatment for cancer.

Alternative Treatments in Conventional Medicine

Alternative Medicine’s role in the world of Conventional Medicine is ever-changing. As fields of alternative medicine prove to be effective and gain notoriety in the world of conventional medicine and, they are slowly accepted into conventional healthcare practices. It is important to note that until very recently Alternative Medicine was shunned by Conventional Medicine, and the acceptance of any type of alternative medicine in conventional healthcare is a new idea.

Are Alternative Medicine Practices Covered by Health Insurance Programs?

Virtually no predominant health insurance companies offer plans that cover all types of alternative medicine out right. However, more companies are beginning to offer health insurance coverage for some complementary medical treatment. For example, it is no longer unusual to find that a main stream health insurance company may cover chiropractic procedures in the health plans they offer. As the worlds of conventional and alternative medicine begin to meld together, health insurance companies are slowly following suit.

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