Insurance cover for alternative therapy

Alternative therapy Historical support from Insurance companies

Not long ago insurance companies altogether refused to cover complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). However, the growing popularity of alternative medicines, and the fact that some of them have been scientifically validated, has forced the insurance companies to abandon their earlier attitude and come up with insurance cover and plan with regard to these therapies and medicines.

Research Scope

A research study undertaken by William E. Lafferty, Patrick T. Tyree et al. in 2002, comprising 60,000 people and three major insurance companies in western Washington area shows that CAM claims were made by about 13.7 % of people. Claims were largely made in Acupuncture (1.3 %), Naturopathy (1.6 %), Massage (2.4 %) and Chiropractic (10.9 %). The study concluded that a substantial number of people are using CAM insurance benefits with effect on insurance service being modest. It also recommends better utilization of these services.

Other independent researches have also shown that six of the world's major insurance companies presently cover 11 of the 34 alternative therapies. And they are expected to expand this list soon.

Precautions to be taken when taking Insurance

However generally insurance provide inadequate cover for these therapies- people typically pay for services on a discounted fee-for-service basis or they are allowed an unrealistically small number of sessions. It results in wrong judgment of treatment as usually the plan expires before the entire treatment is administered to the patient. As alternative therapies and medicines are reputed to take the long course to healing, the short term coverage makes the coverage somewhat redundant.

The best way to know is to ask your insurance company about their terms, conditions and policy on alternative medicines. Here are some questions to ask you insurer:

Finally, if the treatment you are seeking is simply not covered by insurance and you are still committed to obtaining it, go directly to your physician or practitioner and ask if s/he will negotiate a payment. Some providers are willing to give need-based discounts, especially if they are paid in cash.