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Could Natural Medicine Be the Answer to Runaway Healthcare Costs?

Emma Tekstra > Healthcare Industry  > Could Natural Medicine Be the Answer to Runaway Healthcare Costs?

Could Natural Medicine Be the Answer to Runaway Healthcare Costs?

When I say natural medicine I wonder if you’re thinking of herbs with names you’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce, or chanting over crystals? But I’m sure many of you use various forms of natural medicine already. See my Post on A Better Way to Treat a Sinus Infection, I bet most of you have used some of those strategies. They are all considered natural medicine. But I am talking far beyond colds and flu.

 

Let me assure you I am too devoted to evidence-based information to assume anything labelled “alternative” is going to be worthwhile. Most people don’t realize how much data is available on the efficacy of treatments that do not rely on a pharmaceutical drug or expensive procedures. Before we explore this thought further though let’s just take a moment to review the current environment of healthcare in the US.

 

The US spends vastly more than any other nation on healthcare. A recent study showed the US spent nearly twice as much as other wealthy nations like Australia, Canada and the UK. Yet outcomes are far worse with the lowest life expectancy, highest chronic disease burden, and double the obesity rate of any of the included peer nations. In terms of value, the US has the worst healthcare system in the world.

Employers group health plans are part of the problem.

In the US there are 66,000 group health plans covering a total of 80 million employees with the employer often picking up 80% or more of the costs so the employee never sees the true price tag. The design of the plan drives consumer behavior in terms of the medical services that are covered or not.

 

Healthcare is therefore treated as risk mitigation or protection against adverse events similar to life insurance. The objective has never been to drive health. It works fine if you’re in a car accident and need your life saving or your limbs put back together. But conventional healthcare has some serious drawbacks if you’re just having various symptoms that indicate your health is compromised. The focus has been to alleviate the symptom rather than to return you to optimum health.

 

Diagnosed with diabetes or an autoimmune condition, you get put on a drug that costs $1,000 a month or more, often one that costs $50,000+ a year. To what end? Is there a timeline to come off the drug when cured or in remission? Unlikely. A more typical scenario is being prescribed additional drugs as new symptoms arise probably due to side-effects of the first.

 

A recent poll by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 62% (6 out of every 10) US adults were taking at least one prescription medication. 25% were taking four or more! These rates increase if you focus only on older people. And that’s just the drugs. Don’t get me started on the unnecessary procedures and surgeries!

Coming back now to natural medicine. I’m including doctors who focus on Functional or Integrative Medicine, as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other herbalists. Plus other modalities such as acupuncture, homeopathy, essential oils, food-as-medicine approaches and many more. There are increasing numbers of conventionally-trained doctors who have seen first-hand the benefits of natural medicine in their practices often having gone through a health issue themselves. The problem though is that most health plans and insurance do not cover natural therapies  or the doctors that include them when there is an increasing body of peer-reviewed research that shows they can be superior to conventional treatment without the side-effects, and are available at a fraction of the cost.

 

Later Blog posts will look at some common conditions and the alternative approaches available.

 

While there are good reasons for your insurance policy not covering that bunch of organic kale you bought this week, or the bottle of essential oil you found online, there are many parameters that could be set for proven treatments and qualified functional and integrative doctors to be included in your service provider network. We just might see healthcare costs plummet with such an approach.  

Sidebar: I must give a shout out here to the plant kingdom as God’s medicine chest. Plants were the first medicines used in ancient times, and while many pharmaceutical products have been derived from plants, the original form possess attributes that highly processed pharmaceuticals never will including:

An immensely complex chemistry often consisting of thousands of compounds that work synergistically with the human body so resistance doesn’t occur.

Sophisticated responses to bacteria and viruses that are designed to deactivate and destroy pathogens through multiple mechanisms.

They are free! Anyone can learn to harvest or grow plants and make medicine from them.

You don’t need a decade of medical school to use them for healing.

Plants are very safe. There are few side effects especially compared to statistics on the deaths and adverse conditions caused by pharmaceuticals.

They are naturally renewable so don’t cause the type of environmental pollution that pharmaceutical manufacturing does.

So eat more plants (ie. fruits, vegetables and herbs) and you’ll be getting the medicine before you notice you need it!

Emma Tekstra
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